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In recent years, the growing interest in the wireless sensor network (WSN) has resulted in thousands of peer-reviewed publications. Most of this research is concerned with scalar sensor networks that measure physical phenomena, such as temperature, pressure, humidity, or location of objects that can be conveyed through low-bandwidth and delay-tolerant data streams. Recently, the focus is shifting toward research aimed at revisiting the sensor network paradigm to enable delivery of multimedia content, such as audio and video streams and still images, as well as scalar data. This effort will result in distributed, networked systems, referred to in this paper as wireless multimedia sensor networks (WMSNs). This article discusses the state of the art and the major research challenges in architectures, algorithms, and protocols for wireless multimedia sensor networks. Existing solutions at the physical, link, network, transport, and application layers of the communication protocol stack are investigated. Finally, fundamental open research issues are discussed, and future research trends in this area are outlined.