The UCLA School of Engineering’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) shared an overview of its work from the past year at its third annual public research review on Friday, October 28.

By M. Abraham

The Center, which focuses on applying embedded networked sensing systems technology to critical scientific and social applications, hosted a variety of panels which explored topics such as the challenges of placing sensors in varying environments, powering the sensors, making sensors commonplace in monitoring the environment, and legal issues. A noontime session also showcased a wide variey of student projects.

“Embedded networked sensing systems may prove to be as important a technology as the Internet, expanding people’s ability to interact with the physical world in revolutionary ways,” says Deborah Estrin, CENS director and computer science professor at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Not only can we collect information that previously was not available, but we can now design systems to automatically take action once a pollutant, structural failure, or other hazard is detected.”

An interdisciplinary and multi-institutional venture, CENS involves hundreds of faculty, engineers, graduate student researchers, and undergraduate students from multiple disciplines at UCLA and its partner institutions. Researchers are working to build an infrastructure resource for society that monitors and collects information on such diverse subjects as plankton colonies, endangered species, soil and air contaminants, medical patients, and buildings, bridges, and other man-made structures to reveal previously unobservable phenomena.

Like the Internet, these large-scale, distributed systems, composed of smart sensors and actuators embedded in the physical world, will eventually infuse the entire world at a physical level instead of virtual.

CENS partner institutions include the University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of California, Riverside, California Institute of Technology, University of California at Merced and California State University at Los Angeles.

To learn more about CENS and its research, visit the CENS Web site at