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NWU-EECS-06-09

NWU-EECS-06-09

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Published by: eecs.northwestern.edu on Jun 02, 2010
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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
Technical ReportNWU-EECS-06-09August 3, 2006
 
Lucid Dreaming: Reliable Analog Event Detectionfor Energy-Constrained Applications
Sasha Jevtic Mat Kotowksy
 Robert Dick Peter Dinda Charles Dowding
 
Abstract
Existing sensor network architectures are based on the assumption that data will bepolled. Therefore, they are not adequate for long-term battery-powered use inapplications that must sense or react to events that occur at unpredictable times. Inresponse, and motivated by a structural autonomous crack monitoring (ACM) applicationfrom civil engineering that requires bursts of high resolution sampling in response toaperiodic vibrations in buildings and bridges, we have designed, implemented, andevaluated
lucid dreaming
, a hardware/software technique to dramatically decrease sensornode power consumption in this and other related event-driven sensing applications. Ourhardware is an add-on board for standard Crossbow Motes that makes use of an ultra-low-power analog comparator and an in-system programmable precision voltagereference. The sensor, e.g., geophone, output voltage is compared to the reference. Whenit exceeds the reference, an interrupt is delivered to the Mote, activating it and triggeringhigh-resolution sampling. In the structural integrity monitoring application, this isachieved with 1/245 the average power consumption required by existing sensor network architectures, thereby dramatically increasing battery lifespan. We believe that theproposed technique will yield similar benefits in a wide range of applications.
Infrastructure Technology Institute, Northwestern University
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Northwestern University
 
Keywords:
Sensor networks, event detection, low power, analog circuits
 
Lucid Dreaming: Reliable Analog Event Detection forEnergy-Constrained Applications
Sasha JevticMat Kotowsky‡ Robert P. Dick† Peter A. Dinda† Charles Dowding‡†(sjevtic, dickrp, pdinda)@eecs.northwestern.edu ‡(kotowsky, c-dowding)@northwestern.eduDept. of Electrical Engg. and Computer Science Dept. of Civil and Environmental EngineeringNorthwestern University Northwestern University3 August 2006
Abstract
Existing sensor network architectures are based on the as-sumption that data will be polled. Therefore, they arenot adequate for long-term battery-powered use in applica-tions that must sense or react to events that occur at un-predictable times. In response, and motivated by a struc-tural autonomous crack monitoring (ACM) application fromcivil engineering that requires bursts of high resolution sam-pling in response to aperiodic vibrations in buildings andbridges, we have designed, implemented, and evaluated
lu-cid dreaming
, a hardware/software technique to dramati-cally decrease sensor node power consumption in this andother related event-driven sensing applications. Our hard-ware is an add-on board for standard Crossbow Motes thatmakes use of an ultra-low-power analog comparator and anin-system programmable precision voltage reference. Thesensor, e.g., geophone,output voltageis comparedto the ref-erence. When it exceeds the reference, an interrupt is deliv-ered to the Mote, activating it and triggering high-resolutionsampling. In the structural integrity monitoring application,this is achieved with 1/245 the average power consumptionrequired by existing sensor network architectures, therebydramatically increasing battery lifespan. We believe that theproposedtechniquewillyieldsimilarbenefitsinawiderangeof applications.
1 Introduction
Wireless sensor networks have the potential to serve as plat-formsforawiderangeofenvironmentalmonitoringandcon-trol applications. Applications can be considered at manylevels, from the individual sensors, to the individual nodehardware and software, to the local wireless network formedby nodes, and finally to that network’s interaction with thebroader world. Our work focuses on interaction among sen-sors, microcontrollers, and software within individual wire-less sensor network nodes.In this context, two universal research problems come tothe fore: the maintenance problem and the unpredictableevent problem. How can we arrange for nodes to operatewithout frequent intervention? Low maintenance is neces-sary to allow large-scale deployments in remote environ-ments. It is prevented by short battery life, hence we focuson increasing battery life. How can we arrange for nodesto react to environmental events that occur at unpredictabletimes? We cannot assume that interesting data will be pre-sented, on a silver platter, whenever requested. Jointly ad-dressing the maintenance and unpredictable event problemsrequires changes to the sensor network node architecture, al-lowing it to respond to events at any time while maintain-ing ultra-low power consumption. We claim that addressingthe problem requires a combined hardware and software ap-proach. As described in Sections 2 and 5, attempts to solvethese problems with software, alone, have resulted in highpower consumption or missed events.This work is motivated by applications that have the fol-lowing characteristics:1. They are extremely power-sensitive. The nodes arepowered by batteries that can be replaced only aftermonths or years of operation.2. Low-power sensors and computational elements can beused for detecting, but not necessarily taking detailedmeasurements of, events.3. Eventsarerareandthe computationand/orcommunica-tion they trigger is short relative to the event interarrivaltime.4. Event interarrival times are unpredictable.5. It is preferable not to miss, or ignore, events.1

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