smart dust
n. Tiny airborne devices containing sensors and communications capabilities.
Dr. Kris Pister, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, is among the scientists who aim to give microbatteries a trial run with a wireless network based on MEMS technology. Dr. Pister is the inventor of smart dust, or networked airborne motes of silicon that are designed to sense, measure and transmit data like temperature, humidity and light intensity.
—Anne Eisenberg, “A World of Wee Devices Seeks Some Batteries to Match,” The New York Times, January 10, 2002
The same technological advances that make computers smaller and faster every year are the driving forces behind smart dust. Like semiconductors — the brains of computers — each mote will be carved entirely of silicon.
—Margie Wylie, “Sensors shrink to size of sand,” The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), October 12, 1999
1997 (earliest)
The Pentagon has a proposal for fighting dirty in the future: clouds of "smart dust" that could track enemy troops or check for dangerous chemicals. The tiny particles, about 1 millimeter wide by 1 centimeter long, could be shot into the air in a bullet and fall slowly in a cloudlike mass, according to Defense News, a weekly newspaper.
—Jennifer Files, “Tech Bits,” The Dallas Morning News, May 26, 1997
Individually, and appropriately, these devices are called motes.
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