A bee with a microsensor attached

CSIRO is developing tiny sensors that can be attached to insects.


We are developing and deploying new miniaturised sensing technologies that can capture information about our world with unprecedented density and in locations not previously accessible.

  • 16 January 2014 | Updated 23 January 2014

Building on decades of CSIRO research into sensors and sensor networks, CSIRO Computational Informatics is advancing sensing technologies on the micro scale.

Our cutting edge capabilities including miniaturising sensing technology and designing new microscale devices. These tiny sensors will allow collection of rich data to help us better understand complex environments in difficult to reach spaces.

Insects as sensors

Our researchers are helping deploy micro-sensors that are attached to insects (e.g. mosquitoes, honey bees and fruit flies) to gather information about their behaviour patterns and correlate these with environmental conditions.

This will enable direct, real-time monitoring of insects in the field. We can then associate insect behaviour with environmental changes over time.

Previously, this type of information has been inferred from indirect measurements. Now, this new technology will gather precise data about the insect's interactions with its direct environment.

The development strategy is two-pronged:

  • adapt existing technologies (such as Radio-frequency identification or RFID sensors)
  • design completely new devices.

In addition to the hardware development, our researchers will also develop models to incorporate swarm sensing data and theoretical frameworks to interpret the data.

Our research also incorporates behavioural modelling of insects in the landscape.

Our goal

Across CSIRO's energy, technology and information science domains, we aim to develop a cost-effective 100 micrometre (0.1 mm) sensor platform that is able to:

  • harvest and store energy to power the sensor
  • make environmental measurements
  • process and store data
  • transmit data.

Beyond environmental sensing, other potential applications for this technology will include monitoring of health, infrastructure integrity, and industrial safety.

Read more about the research of Wireless sensor networks.