Basser Seminar Series

Speckled Computing

Professor D K Arvind
School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh

Thursday 11 May 2006, 4-5pm (Note: different day)

Basser Conference Room (Madsen Building, Room G92)


A specknet is a collection of autonomous specks which provides distributed services: each speck is capable of sensing and processing the data under program control; the specks themselves are connected as an ad-hoc wireless network which collaborate to process information in a distributed manner.

Specknets link the digital world of computers to the physical world of sensory data. A specknet on the person, for example, will be capable of tracking movements of the limbs, or the position of the person in the environment, and this information can be stored, manipulated and accessed remotely over the internet, Computing with specknets, or Speckled Computing, affords new models of unencumbered interaction with the digital world, in which the physical environment is the primary site of interaction.

The future Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) will support more than 35 trillion separate subnetworks, each of which could connect millions of devices. We are moving inevitably towards a future of connectedness of people and smart objects, i.e. objects which are sensitive to their environment by being context- and location-aware. Specks endow smart objects with the necessary sensing and processing capabilities, and the specknet bridges wirelessly the physical world of objects and people, i.e. the world of sensory data, to the digital world of the internet.

The talk will give a broad overview of the research undertaken in the Consortium - a multidisciplinary collaboration of computer scientists, electronic engineers, physicists and electrochemists drawn from five universities to realise 5Cube specks (5X5X5mm). Some results in leaderless, distributed algorithms for localisation and zone formation in specknets will be presented. Video clips will be presented of applications using larger speck prototypes, ranging from monitoring break dancers, to posture tracking and distributed fire alarms.

Speaker's biography

DK Arvind is a Reader in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom. He was previously for four years a Research Scientist at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. He is the founder Director and Principal Investigator of the Research Consortium in Speckled Computing ( a multidisciplinary grouping of computer scientists, electronic engineers, electrochemists and physicists drawn from five universities, to research the next generation of miniature 5mm cube specks. The Consortium has attracted research funding in the excess of US$9 miillion (2004-10) from the Scottish Funding Council, and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the US). In the past his research has been funded by EPSRC, US Office of Naval Research, Scottish Enterprise/Cadence Design Systems, Sharp, Hitachi, Panasonic/Mastushita, ARM and SUN Microsystems. His research interests include the design, analysis and integration of miniature networked embedded systems which combine sensing, processing and wireless networking capabilities.