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Trillions of Smart Sensors Will Change Life

In February, six students on snowshoes battled as much as 12 feet of snow to penetrate into the heart of the American River basin.

Moving through dense forests and meadows, they mounted 90 iPhone-sized machines, designed to measure everything from soil moisture to temperature and relative humidity, onto 16-foot poles that beam data to researchers like Steven Glaser, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.