Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2014
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are a new class of wireless networks that are becoming very popular with a huge number of civilian and military applications. A wireless sensor network (WSN) is a wireless network that contains distributed independent sensor devices that are meant to monitor physical or environmental conditions. A WSN consists of a set of connected tiny sensor nodes, which communicate with each other and exchange information and data. These nodes obtain information on the environment such as temperature, pressure, humidity or pollutant, and send this information to a base station. The latter sends the info to a wired network or activates an alarm or an action, depending on the type and magnitude of data monitored [1–24].
Typical applications include weather and forest monitoring, battlefield surveillance, physical monitoring of environmental conditions such as pressure, temperature, vibration, pollutants, or tracing human and animal movement in forests and borders [1–23]. They use the same transmission medium (which is air) for wireless transmission as wireless local area networks (WLANs). For nodes in a local area network to communicate properly, standard access protocols like IEEE 802.11 are available. However, this and the other protocols cannot be directly applied to WSNs. The major difference is that, unlike devices participating in local area networks, sensors are equipped with a very small source of energy (usually a battery), which drains out very fast. Hence the need arises to design new protocols for MAC that are energy aware. Clearly there is some difference between a traditional WLAN and a WSN, as the latter has limited resources.