Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in embedded wireless sensor networks with applications ranging from habitat monitoring to medical applications. Wireless sensor networks have several important attributes that require special attention to device design. These include the need for inexpensive, long-lasting, highly reliable devices coupled with very low performance requirements. Ultimately, the "holy grail" of this design space is a truly untethered device that operates off of energy scavenged from the ambient environment. In this paper, we describe an application-driven approach to the architectural design and implementation of a wireless sensor device that recognizes the event-driven nature of many sensor-network workloads. We have developed a full-system simulator for our sensor node design to verify and explore our architecture. Our simulation results suggest one to two orders of magnitude reduction in power dissipation over existing commodity-based systems for an important class of sensor network applications. We are currently in the implementation stage of design, and plan to tape out the first version of our system within the next year.