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April 17th, 2007
Thousands of miniscule wireless sensors, or "smart dust", could one-day be used to explore other planets, swirling across the landscape by subtly altering their shape. At least, that's the exotic vision put forward in new computer simulations.
Several different research groups are developing tiny smart dust devices. Each is a few cubic millimetres in volume and can perform simple sensing tasks and relay messages to other such devices over distances of less than a metre. Together, they can be sprinkled across an area or throughout a building, and used to sense chemicals or vibrations, and relay messages from one another back to a central control.
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