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Businesses build sensing networks

Research firm On World says specialized wireless computer networks are in big demand this year.

Wireless computer networks that can detect changes in light, temperature, moisture, motion and other environmental conditions are in big demand this year, according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday. Companies and governments will collectively put more than a million wireless sensors, the data-gathering devices that power such networks, to use worldwide by the end of the year, San Diego, Calif.-based wireless research firm On World said in a report.

Industrial companies such as oil refineries and chemical manufacturers are particularly keen on the technology as a tool for monitoring conditions in harsh environments. Wireless sensor networks have only recently emerged from the labs of universities and various start-ups as a commercial technology, fueled by advances in miniaturized memory, processing and transceiver technology, wireless communication protocols and battery life.