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MEDIA ADVISORY: "Smart dust" demonstration

ATTENTION: Energy Writers and Technology Reporters

22 May 2001
Contact: Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998


A first-of-its-kind demonstration of "smart dust" sensors to actively manage energy use.

Experts from the University of California, Berkeley's new Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) will show how 21st century energy-management technology now being developed at UC Berkeley can be used in buildings across California to greatly reduce energy use, particularly when peak-hour shortages require immediate reductions in consumption.

Emerging smart energy technology could potentially save the state as much as $7 to $8 billion a year in electricity costs, say UC Berkeley engineers. The technology can keep consumers' utility bills in check as well as help reduce the demand for new power plants and avoid their environmental consequences.


10 a.m. Friday, May 25.


Room 400, Cory Hall, UC Berkeley. Portions of Cory Hall have been outfitted by scientists and graduate students with dozens of solar and battery-powered "smart dust motes" to demonstrate the smart energy concept at work. Cory Hall is at the northeast corner of the campus and fronts Hearst Avenue.


Richard Newton, dean of the College of Engineering
Kris Pister, developer of "smart dust" and associate professor of electrical engineering & computer sciences
Edward Arens, professor of architecture and director of UC Berkeley's Center for the Built Environment
Shmuel Oren, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and UC Berkeley director of the Engineering Power System Research Center


Cory Hall houses the campus's Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences. It was built in 1948, long before energy conservation was an issue. Today it is outfitted with sensors containing wireless radio transceivers and their own "TinyOS" operating system. Placed in office corners, conference rooms and hallways, the sensors keep constant vigil on light and temperature conditions.

For wider use in the near future, engineers envision similar devices coupled to electrical circuits in breaker boxes to monitor and manage power consumption. The readings hop from one smart dust mote to another, ultimately landing at a central Web site that allows a homeowner or building manager to substantially reduce energy use when prices are high or supplies are under pressure.

1. Small "smart-dust motes." (You can hold several in your hand.)
2. Computer graphics showing real-time energy use in Cory Hall.
3. Simulation of a Stage III power alert showing how sensors could turn off enough lights and major appliances to reduce the energy load to acceptable levels, thus avoiding a rolling blackout.
4. Large roof-top coolers and air conditioning systems on Cory Hall, which will be part of the demonstration project. (From the rooftop, there are great views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.)