Senses Lab

SEnsors NetworkS and Embedded Systems Laboratory

Center for Cyber Intelligence and Information Security

Towards Self-Powered Wireless Sensor Networks

Research Area: Design, evaluation and test of complete solutions for Green Wireless Sensor Networks Year: 2013
Type of Publication: Phd Thesis
Authors: Dora Spenza
University: University of Rome "La Sapienza"
Ubiquitous computing aims at creating smart environments in which computational and communication capabilities permeate the word at all scales, improving the human experience and quality of life in a totally unobtrusive yet completely reliable manner. According to this vision, an huge variety of smart devices and products (e.g., wireless sensor nodes, mobile phones, cameras, sensors, home appliances and industrial machines) are interconnected to realize a network of distributed agents that continuously collect, process, share and transport information. The impact of such technologies in our everyday life is expected to be massive, as it will enable innovative applications that will profoundly change the world around us. Remotely monitoring the conditions of patients and elderly people inside hospitals and at home, preventing catastrophic failures of buildings and critical structures, realizing smart cities with sustainable management of traffic and automatic monitoring of pollution levels, early detecting earthquake and forest fires, monitoring water quality and detecting water leakages, preventing landslides and avalanches are just some examples of life-enhancing applications made possible by smart ubiquitous computing systems. To turn this vision into a reality, however, new raising challenges have to be addressed, overcoming the limits that currently prevent the pervasive deployment of smart devices that are long lasting, trusted, and fully autonomous. In particular, the most critical factor currently limiting the realization of ubiquitous computing is energy provisioning. In fact, embedded devices are typically powered by short-lived batteries that severely affect their lifespan and reliability, often requiring expensive and invasive maintenance. In this PhD thesis, we investigate the use of energy-harvesting techniques to overcome the energy bottleneck problem suffered by embedded devices, particularly focusing on Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), which are one of the key enablers of pervasive computing systems. Energy harvesting allows to use energy readily available from the environment (e.g., from solar light, wind, body movements, etc.) to significantly extend the typical lifetime of low-power devices, enabling ubiquitous computing systems that can last virtually forever. However, the design challenges posed both at the hardware and at the software levels by the design of energy-autonomous devices are many. This thesis addresses some of the most challenging problems of this emerging research area, such as devising mechanisms for energy prediction and management, improving the efficiency of the energy scavenging process, developing protocols for harvesting-aware resource allocation, and providing solutions that enable robust and reliable security support.
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