Resource aware programming in the Pixie OS

Konrad Lorincz, Bor Rong Chen, Jason Waterman, Geoff Werner-Allen, Matt Welsh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper presents Pixie, a new sensor node operating system designed to support the needs of data-intensive applications. These applications, which include high-resolution monitoring of acoustic, seismic, acceleration, and other signals, involve high data rates and extensive in-network processing. Given the fundamentally resource-limited nature of sensor networks, a pressing concern for such applications is their ability to receive feedback on, and adapt their behavior to, fluctuations in both resource availability and load. The Pixie OS is based on a dataflow programming model based on the concept of resource tickets, a core abstraction for representing resource availability and reservations. By giving the system visibility and fine-grained control over resource management, a broad range of policies can be implemented. To shield application programmers from the burden of managing these details, Pixie provides a suite of resource brokers, which mediate between low-level physical resources and higher-level application demands. Pixie is implemented in NesC and supports limited backwards compatibility with TinyOS. We describe Pixie in the context of two applications: limb motion analysis for patients undergoing treatment for motion disorders, and acoustic target detection using a network of microphones. We present a range of experiments demonstrating Pixie's ability to accurately account for resource availability at runtime and enable a range of both generic and application-specific adaptations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSenSys'08 - Proceedings of the 6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, SenSys 2008 - Raleigh, NC, United States
Duration: Nov 5 2008Nov 7 2008

Publication series

NameSenSys'08 - Proceedings of the 6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems


Other6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, SenSys 2008
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityRaleigh, NC


  • resource reservations
  • resource-aware programming
  • wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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