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Wireless sensor network systems are now being applied by an international community for critical applications in commerce, healthcare, and security. These systems have unique characteristics and face many implementation challenges. Among all, the requirement of long operating life for a wireless sensor node under limited energy supply imposes the most severe design constraints. This calls for innovative design methodologies to address this rigorous requirement. This article first provides an overview of wireless technologies for sensor networks. It then describes communication system, circuit design, and system packaging considerations. The selection of radio architectures and circuit techniques is discussed with an emphasis on the low-power implementation and operating characteristics that match requirements of sensor network application. Finally, the design, implementation, and performance of the most challenging component, a complete low-power CMOS receiver system, is presented to demonstrate these design principles.