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As a key approach to achieve energy efficiency in sensor networks, sensing coverage has been studied extensively. Researchers have designed many coverage protocols to provide various kinds of service guarantees on the network lifetime, coverage ratio and detection delay. While these protocols are effective, they are not flexible enough to meet multiple design goals simultaneously. In this paper, we propose a unified sensing coverage architecture, called uSense, which features three novel ideas: asymmetric architecture, generic switching and global scheduling. We propose asymmetric architecture based on the conceptual separation of switching from scheduling. Switching is efficiently supported in sensor nodes, while scheduling is done in a separated computational entity, where multiple scheduling algorithms are supported. As an instance, we propose a two-level global coverage algorithm, called uScan. At the first level, coverage is scheduled to activate different portions of an area. We propose an optimal scheduling algorithm to minimize area breach. At the second level, sets of nodes are selected to cover active portions. Importantly, we show the feasibility to obtain optimal set-cover results in linear time if the layout of areas satisfies certain conditions. We evaluate our architecture with a network of 30 MicaZ motes, an extensive simulation with 10,000 nodes, as well as theoretical analysis. The results indicate that uSense is a promising architecture to support flexible and efficient coverage in sensor networks.