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The name started out as something of a joke. "Everyone was talking about smart houses, smart buildings, smart bombs, and I thought that it was funny to talk about smart dust," remembers Kris Pister. Though he might have named his invention partly in jest, "smart dust" is now part of the technical lexicon. The tiny, wireless sensors that started out in his University of California Berkeley, office can now be found in laboratories around the country, where scientists and engineers across many disciplines are eagerly devising applications for them. With possible uses in the military, the home, and the environment-and a new commercial company (Dust, Inc.) devoted solely to its development-today more than ever, smart dust is no joke. How Pister's company came to be, and the means through which smart dust is entering American industry, make for an interesting case study in modem technology commercialization.
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2003