Trinity: Enabling self-Sustaining WSNs indoors with energy-Free sensing and networking

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Journal Article
ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems, 2018, 17 (2)
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© 2018 ACM. Whereas a lot of efforts have been put on energy conservation in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), the limited lifetime of these systems still hampers their practical deployments. This situation is further exacerbated indoors, as conventional energy harvesting (e.g., solar) May not always work. To enable long-lived indoor sensing, we report in this article a self-sustaining sensing system that draws energy from indoor environments, adapts its duty-cycle to the harvested energy, and pays back the environment by enhancing the awareness of the indoor microclimate through an “energy-free” sensing. First of all, given the pervasive operation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems indoors, our system harvests energy from airflow introduced by the HVAC systems to power each sensor node. Secondly, as the harvested power is tiny, an extremely low but synchronous duty-cycle has to be applied whereas the system gets no energy surplus to support existing synchronization schemes. So, we design two complementary synchronization schemes that cost virtually no energy. Finally, we exploit the feature of our harvester to sense the airflow speed in an energy-free manner. To our knowledge, this is the first indoor wireless sensing system that encapsulates energy harvesting, network operating, and sensing all together.
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