Seamless Integration of Battery-Free Communications in Commodity Wireless Networks

Sammanfattning: Ubiquitous sensing applications have countless potential benefits to society. However, batteries have long been an obstacle to their full development. Harvesting energy from the environment is a promising alternative to battery power, but traditional radio transceivers consume too much for most harvesters.  This work is motivated by backscatter communications, a technique that reduces the energy that devices spend exchanging data by up to three orders of magnitude relative to regular radios.  This reduction enables sensing devices that operate indefinitely without having to replace batteries; instead they leverage energy harvesting.  My goal is to enable the seamless integration of battery-free devices with widespread low-power commodity networks such as Bluetooth or ZigBee/IEEE 802.15.4.  Making this integration seamless is critical for the broad adoption of the new class of devices.At a high level, my dissertation outlines a series of challenges to the seamless integration of the new devices with regular low-power networks.  We then propose ways to address these challenges, and demonstrate how we could integrate ultra-low-power battery-free devices with regular networks, while avoiding hardware modifications and minimizing any disruption that the addition may cause to existing and co-located communication devices.This work advances the state of the art by: First, demonstrating how to augment an existing sensor network with new sensors without any hardware modification to the pre-existing hardware. The existing network provides the unmodulated carrier that the battery-free nodes need to communicate. Second, we demonstrate a radio receiver that, if implemented in silicon, can directly receive low-power commodity wireless signals when assisted by an unmodulated carrier, and with a power consumption of a few hundred microwatts. The receiver makes battery-free devices directly compatible with regular networks. We introduce simulation models and a first-of-its-kind tool to simulate battery-free communications that integrate with regular networks. Finally, we demonstrate how to efficiently provide unmodulated carrier support for battery-free devices in the previous scenarios without unnecessarily spending energy and spectrum and without undue disturbance to co-located devices.

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