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"It's also important to vary your stimuli. I always look for new things to shock the system. Just as you make muscles grow by shocking them, you make the mind grow by shocking it."
- Bart Kosko

Localizer  
  Devices that work together to form ad-hoc networks.  

See also the material for dustmote.

Localizers were a basic tool of an technical civilization. The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another, using time of flight and distributed algorithms to accurately locate each participating device. Several thousand of them formed the positioning grid on the rubble pile. Together they were a kind of low-level network, providing information on the orientation, position, and relative velocity of the electric jets and the rubble.
From A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge.
Published by Not known in 1999
Additional resources -

Take a look at the related links for modern day examples.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Deepness in the Sky
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  Tech news articles related to A Deepness in the Sky
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