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A novel, autonomous, fully distributed sensor node platform designed and built for a continuous, wide-area surveillance and security system is described. Sensor nodes cooperate to detect and track intruders in the surveilled area. Analysis and simulation of the surveillance system indicates that while considerably more capability is required in many aspects (processing power, memory, latency, communication range, and so on) than is currently available in common "mote" designs, performance, energy consumption, node lifetime, and ease of use are enhanced by this approach. Because higher capability components are used, more careful scheduling and power control software is required to mitigate the impact on energy consumption. A full software suite was developed and instrumented to record true system usage during operation of the surveillance system. Measurements of actual usage have been made on a moderately oversized prototype platform. A second generation platform has been designed based on the measured usage data. The software suite is being ported to this platform. Lifetime of the second generation platform running the demanding surveillance application is expected to be about 90 days on 2 AA batteries (3000mAh at 1.5V). Applications with less stringent requirements should enjoy much longer lifetimes.