• A novel virtual reality-based system for remote environmental monitoring and control using an activity modulated wireless sensor network

      Montz, Benjamin; Raskovic, Dejan; Mayer, Charles E.; Thorsen, Denise (2019-08)
      The ability to monitor and control a home environment remotely has improved considerably in recent years due to improvements in the computational power, reduction in physical size, reduced implementation cost, and widespread use of both wireless sensor networks and smart home systems. This thesis presents a remote environment management system that integrated a custom wireless sensor network that monitored environmental factors in multiple locations, a smart system that controlled those factors, and a virtual reality system that functioned as a remote interface with the environment. The resulting system enabled a user to efficiently interact with a distant environment using an immersive virtual reality experience. The user was able to interact with the remote environments by issuing voice commands, performing hand gestures, and interacting with virtual objects. This type of system has applications in many fields ranging from healthcare to the industrial sector. The case study system that was designed in this thesis monitored and controlled the environments of several rooms in a home. A novel approach to modulating the activity of the wireless sensor network was implemented in this system. The rate at which the sensor nodes collected and transmitted data was modulated based on the visibility of the virtual objects called VSNs. These virtual sensor nodes displayed the sensor node measurements in virtual reality. This method was expanded upon using a motion prediction algorithm that was used to predict if the virtual sensor nodes were going to be visible to the user. This prediction was then used to modulate the activity of the wireless sensor network. These activity modulation algorithms were used to reduce the power consumption of the wireless sensor network and thus increasing its operational lifespan, while simultaneously reducing unnecessary RF signals in the environment that can interfere with the operation of other wireless systems. These algorithms would be crucial for systems monitoring complex sensor-rich environments where reducing the data transmitted and extending the system's lifespan was paramount, such as managing the environments of many rooms in a large industrial park or controlling the environments of spacecraft from Mission Control on Earth.
    • A two-layer energy-efficient wireless sensor network for precision agriculture applications

      Ntarugera, Osiris V.; Raskovic, Dejan; Mayer, Charles E.; Hatfield, Michael (2018-12)
      The agriculture industry has benefited from the recent technological evolution; for example, farmers now use satellite images to monitor large fields. The use of technology in agriculture, generally referred to as Precision Agriculture, has attracted a lot of research interest from electrical engineers. One particular area of Precision Agriculture is the application of embedded systems in monitoring large crop fields. Sensor nodes are placed at various locations in the field where they measure different parameters, such as temperature and soil moisture. The collected measurements are sent to a central hub outside of the field where they can be further processed and displayed for the farmers to make appropriate decisions. From the farmers' perspective, this kind of wireless sensor network (WSN) is a cost-effective solution that allows them to gather accurate information about their crops in real time and significantly improve production. To scientists, it provides invaluable information that can help them improve farming processes or even develop new crop varieties. From the embedded systems stand-point however, such a network poses several challenges, mainly battery life and network lifetime. Battery life is a serious challenge because nodes are scattered in the field and it would be labor intensive and expensive to replace their batteries. It is important to keep nodes alive because dead nodes not only fail to collect data but they also fail to relay packets from other active nodes. Radio communication draws most of the node's battery in WSN, so most energy saving techniques revolve around careful management of the radio. In this study, we focus on routing protocols that maximize the lifetime of the network. Most researchers have suggested various routing schemes to minimize battery consumption by finding the shortest path to a hub; however, when looking at the network as a whole, this approach may not be ideal. We present a lifetime-maximizing routing scheme that uses a cost function to distribute the traffic load among all nodes and to spare those with low remaining energy. The cost function being essential to our algorithm, we evaluate the impact of different types of cost function on the network lifetime. Lastly, we evaluate the impact of link quality in the cost function. Simulation results show that the power cost function has the best performance and that link quality can improve network lifetime. Another major contribution of this research is the design of a test framework that can be used to evaluate other routing protocols. In order to evaluate our routing protocol, we created a WSN simulation in Castalia. The simulation and the routing protocol are highly parametric and with minor modifications, users can experiment with new protocols or variations of ours. Using our platform can save users a lot of time and trouble, especially those unfamiliar with simulation tools, hence allowing them to focus their efforts on their protocol.