Design of current sensor network platforms has favored low power operation at the cost of Communication throughput or range, which severely limits support for real-time monitoring applications with high throughput requirements. This letter presents the design of the versatile Opal platform that couples a Cortex M3 MCU with two IEEE 802.15.4 radios for supporting sensing applications with high transfer rates without sacrificing Communication range. We present experiments that evaluate Opal's throughput and range when operating with one or two radios, and we compare these results with an Iris-based node and TelosB nodes. We introduce the spatial energy cost metric that measures the energy to transfer one bit of information in a unit area for comparing the performance of the platforms. The results show that Opal operating with dual radios increases the throughput compared to single radio platforms with the same data-rate by a factor of 3.7, without sacrificing Communication range. Opal operating with one radio can deliver a 460% increase in throughput over other single radio nodes at reduced range. We also analyze the implications of Opal's design for multihop Communication, showing that the dual radio architecture removes the bandwidth bottleneck in multihop Communications that is inherent to single radio platforms.
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