When sandstorms raged during the 2003 Iraq war, coalition forces stalled because they could not track enemy movement. Small wireless sensors scattered across terrain could in principle do the tracking instead- and Jason Hill, a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science, has created free software called TinyOS that greatly reduces the cost of setting up and running such a sensor network. Sensors in previous networks relayed information about acoustic vibrations or magnetic fields along predetermined paths to base stations. TinyOS allows the sensors to pass messages to any nearby peer as needed. The system can survive if some sensors are destroyed and reduces reliance on costly base stations, making for quicker deployment and greater flexibility. Today, 80 companies, including Intel and Bosch, use TinyOS in everything from military surveillance to energy monitoring. Last year Hill cofounded Dust in Berkeley, CA, to build custom network applications, some already sold to Honeywell to help grocery stores monitor power usage, and he has now started his own firm, JLH Labs in Capistrano Beach, CA.