My friend Rob Poor is #15 in Yahoo's most popular with a story on his mesh routing company, Ember.
The idea is to build motes - tiny computers that broadcast a radio signal - that are cheap enough to deploy everywhere but just smart enough to "self-organize" into powerful networks that can sense and convey information like whether milk is spoiled or a bookshelf overloaded.I did some research back in 1998 on this topic. I was very impressed by Rob's PhD work and am excited to see how far he's taken it.
There's a good overview article from Rob (along with some Slashdot kibbitzing). Also a 1997 patent filing. I couldn't find Rob's PhD thesis online, you'll have to look it up in the MIT library. His master's has been taken offline but archive.org's Wayback Machine still has it.