Skip to Main Content
Mobile devices such as laptops, netbooks, tablets, smart phones and game consoles have become our de facto interface to the vast amount of information delivery and processing capabilities of the cloud. The move to mobility has been enabled by the dual forces of ubiquitous wireless connectivity combined with the increasing energy efficiency offered by Moore's law. Yet, a major component of the mobile remains largely untapped: the capability to interact with the world immediately around us. A third layer of information acquisition and processing devices commonly called the sensory swarm is emerging, enabled by even more pervasive wireless networking and the introduction of novel ultra-low power technologies. This gives rise to the true emergence of concepts such as cyber-physical and bio-cyber systems, immersive computing, and augmented reality. The functionality of the swarm arises from connections of devices, leading to a convergence between Moore's and Metcalfe's laws, in which scaling refers not any longer to the number of transistors per chip, but rather to the number of interconnected devices. Enabling this fascinating paradigm which represents true wireless ubiquity still requires major breakthroughs on a number of fronts. Providing the always-connected abstraction and the reliability needed for many of the intended applications requires a careful balancing of resources that are in high demand: spectrum and energy. This paper analyzes those challenges, and proposes some disruptive solutions that engage the complete stack from circuit to system.