Autonomy and size are the most important challenges faced when designing radios for distributed wireless sensor networks (WSN). Reducing power consumption requires optimization across all the layers of the communication stack. The WSN platform developed at CSEM therefore uses a co-design approach that combines WiseMAC, a low-power media access control protocol, with the WiseNET SoC, a complex system-on-chip sensor node to exploit the intimate relationship between the MAC-layer and the radio transceiver parameters. This paper reviews the design and realization of the WiseNET SoC featuring a low-power 1V short-range UHF radio transceiver implemented on a 0.18μm standard digital CMOS process. The WiseNET radio consumes only 2.3mW in receive mode with a sensitivity smaller than -108-dBm at a BER of 10
for 25kb/s FSK in the 433MHz ISM band. The design, simulation and validation of the WiseMAC protocol are also detailed in the context of the deployment of a small ad-hoc network experiment at CSEM, demonstrating that the consumption of the WiseNET solution is more than an order of magnitude lower than a comparable Zigbee-based solution.