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San Francisco wireless sensor start-up Arch Rock announces tomorrow that it has received $4.5 million in a first round of venture capital from NEA, Shasta Ventures and Intel Capital.

These tiny sensors can sit pretty much anywhere, and measuring anything — including in your office, seeing, listening and maybe even smelling everything that goes on around you.

Behind the start-up is David Culler, a computer scientist at UC-Berkeley and former director of the Intel Research Berkeley lab, and it was only a matter of time before he got involved in something like this.

Two years ago, we wrote about another wireless sensor company called Dust, which also emerged at UC Berkeley, but which as since moved to Hayward.

Back then, Culler suggested that Dust might face difficulty because it was sticking with a proprietary platform. Dust is backed by In-Q-Tel, IVP and Foundation. Culler, meanwhile, had written TinyOS, an open-standard software program for sensor networks that had been adopted by 300 groups.

So it is no surprise that Intel is backing Culler. Part of Intel’s interest is in the vast amounts of information likely to be transported by such sensors, data that will require processing by the kind of chips Intel manufactures. And better to have an open system, to maximize the number of players using it, according to Culler at the time.