New Sensor Array Changes The Data Collection Game

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory developed Waggle platform outfits researchers with a next-generation data collection experience. Featuring the same type of circuit board and real-time processing speeds inside your smartphone, “Wagglers” can add their own mix of sensors, … specific to what they’re researching, and install programs onto a single low-power “system on a chip” computer board, complete with a Linux-based operating system to control them.

“Waggle can gather the data, send it up to the cloud and get a really fantastic picture of whatever physical processes the researcher wants, whether it’s city or climate data or even hyperspectral data from plants,” said Argonne senior computer scientist and project leader Pete Beckman.  “This is the equivalent of a microscope looking at a cell, except we’re using sensors, turning them towards the environment and getting the most comprehensive picture yet of what is actually happening.”

Waggle began as a small project characterizing heat and temperature fluctuations inside a supercomputer’s machine room. Simple devices lined the computer racks, recording and transmitting data from air flow and temperature. Soon, though, researchers realized that what they really needed was a computing platform for sensors to process the data they were receiving.

Once a sensor is placed in its environment, “the data just sits there isolated,” said Argonne materials scientist and 1851 Royal Commission Design Fellow Jacqueline Cole.” And if anything goes wrong during this period of testing, then you’ve got nothing to come back to. With Waggle, you can monitor the project website, and if something looks kind of screwy you can go in and correct it.” … (read more)