• 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.