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Energy-harvesting sensor nodes determine own location

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensor nodes? Internet of Things? WISPs?

A team of scientists from Disney Research and the University of Washington (UW) demonstrated how a network of energy-harvesting sensor nodes equipped with on-board cameras can automatically figure out each camera's pose and location with the help of optical cues.

This capability could help to enable networks of hundreds or thousands of sensors that could operate without batteries or external power and require minimal maintenance. Such networks could be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in which objects can communicate and share information to create smart environments.

Previous work at UW has produced battery-free RFID tags called WISPs with enhanced capabilities such as on-board computation, sensing and image capture capabilities. WISPs operate at such low power that they can scavenge the energy needed for operation from radio waves. The new work shows that these WISPs with on-board cameras, or WISPCams, can use optical cues to determine where they are located and the direction in which they are pointed. The ability of each node to figure out its own location makes deployment of autonomous sensor nodes easier and the sensor data they produce more meaningful.

"Once the battery-free cameras know their own positions, it is possible to query the network of WISPCams for high level information such as all images looking west or sensor data from all nodes in a particular area," said Alanson P. Sample, a research scientist with Disney Research who previously was a post-doctoral researcher on the UW team that developed the WISP platform and the WISPCam.

Smart camera node

Future iterations of this RFID-based sensing technology has the potential to enable low cost and maintenance-free IoT applications by eliminating the need for external wiring or regular battery replacement. Networks of hundreds or thousands of these sensors could be used to monitor the condition of infrastructure such as bridges, industrial equipment monitoring and home security monitoring.

Sample and his collaboratorsJoshua Smith, associate professor of computer science and engineering, at the University of Washington and his students Saman Naderiparizi, Yi Zhao and James Youngquistpresented their findings at Ubicomp 2015, the International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, in Osaka, Japan.

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