Professor Guevara Noubir leads a multi-disciplinary team to develop a new generation of application-driven wireless sensor networks

April 7, 2010

Professor Guevara Noubir is leading a multi-disciplinary team to develop a new generation of application-driven wireless sensor networks. Recognizing the importance of building energy-efficient wireless sensor networks for applications such as secure rescue mission, reliable building structure and health monitoring, Professor Noubir gathered a team of researchers spanning over the College of Computer and Information Science (Professor Peter Desnoyers and Professor Marty Vona), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Professor Stefano Basagni), Department of Civil Engineering (Professor Dennis Bernal), and the Bouve College of Health Sciences (Professor Maureen Holden) to work towards the goal. The team has just been awarded an NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant to develop a multi-purpose wireless sensor networking instrument that will support the specific experimental research needs of cross-layer protocols for heterogeneous sensor networks and key applications such as search and rescue by swarms of robots, building structures, health monitoring, and patient motion tracking. The instrument will enable (1) research and education for developing and experimenting with protocols and algorithms for a future generation of wireless sensor networks, (2) cross-cutting research and education in application areas of key interest to our society in general and Northeastern University in particular.

This work enhances the support of existing mechanisms of today’s wireless sensor networks such as security, energy efficiency, and reliability by using a more capable new generation of systems on chips at an order of magnitude lower in cost and within a significantly smaller package than today’s solution. Additionally, novel capabilities that enable research are designed and integrated into the target multi-disciplinary application areas; these include:

– Directional antennas for localization, and interference-cancellation, using a combination of low-cost mechanical and electronic beam-forming techniques (outperforming purely electronic smart antennas). This improves communication capacity and robustness against unintentional and malicious interference. It will be fitted on mobile robots and combined with ultra-sound transceivers for faster localization of transmission sources in search and rescue missions.

– Ultralow-power with multi-radio support including wakeup-radios, enabling asymmetric communication architectures, and allowing deployed sensor nodes to last for over a decade without battery changes.

– Nodes hardware, software, and network design architected for ease of composability to quickly integrate specific hardware components of new applications such as wideband reduces personnel in the development microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS) ultrasound transceivers, MEMS accelerometers, flash storage, and also interfaces with a variety of robots and off-the-shelf components (e.g., miniSD GPS).