TinyOS: An Operating System for Sensor Networks


We present TinyOS, a flexible, application-specific operating system for sensor networks, which form a core component of ambient intelligence systems. Sensor networks consist of (potentially) thousands of tiny, low-power nodes, each of which execute concurrent, reactive programs that must operate with severe memory and power constraints. The sensor network challenges of limited resources, event-centric concurrent applications, and low-power operation drive the design of TinyOS. Our solution combines flexible, fine-grain components with an execution model that supports complex yet safe concurrent operations. TinyOS meets these challenges well and has become the platform of choice for sensor network research; it is in use by over a hundred groups worldwide, and supports a broad range of applications and research topics. We provide a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the system, showing that it supports complex, concurrent programs with very low memory requirements (many applications fit within 16KB of memory, and the core OS is 400 bytes) and efficient, low-power operation. We present our experiences with TinyOS as a platform for sensor network innovation and applications.

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