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Welcome to the MIT µAMPS project home page. Over the past few years, the design of micropower wireless sensor systems has gained increasing importance for a variety of commercial and military applications ranging from security devices and medical monitoring to machine diagnosis and chemical/ biological detection. Networks of microsensors (vs. a limited number of macrosensors) can greatly improve environment monitoring and provide significant fault tolerance. The goal of this project is to develop a framework for implementing adaptive energy-aware distributed microsensors.

Significant research has been done on the development of low-power MEMS sensors and their associated interfaces. In this project, we assume that the basic sensor technology is available and our focus is on signal and power conditioning, communication, and collaboration. Rather than looking at an application specific system, we will explore programmable solutions for implementing the above functions. The goal is to provide an energy-efficient and scalable solution for a range of sensor applications.

There are several differences between distributed microsensor networks and conventional wireless multimedia networks. This includes:

  • Lower transmission distances (< 10m)
  • Lower bit rates (typically < kbs)
  • Need for collaboration (sensor data fusion)
  • Limited battery capacity (volume constraints)
  • Time varying resources (e.g., energy) and quality requirements
The above requirements translate to several interesting technical challenges. For example, the limited battery capacity implies that energy harvesting techniques that convert ambient energy (RF or vibration) to electric energy becomes critical. The low bitrates imply that the electronic circuits must be designed for low duty cycles. Commercial radio transceivers are unacceptable for these applications due to their high energy overhead of turning on and off. In addition, innovative solutions to transceiver design are required to achieve efficient transmission of short packets over short distances. The need for collaboration requires the development of efficient data aggregation schemes (e.g., beamforming) to minimize energy dissipation. Programmablity is a key requirement and techniques for energy efficient software will be developed.

Our research will focus on innovative energy-optimized solutions at all levels of the system hierarchy including: physical layer (e.g., tranceiver design), data link layer (packetization and encapsulation), medium access layer (multi-user communication with emphasis on scalability), network/transport layer (routing and aggregation schemes), session/presentation layer (real-time distributed OS), and application layer (innovative applications). We will investigate techniques to optimize for energy efficiency vertically across the protocol stack.

This project requires expertise and innovation in process technology and devices, analog and digital circuits, embedded processor design (architecture, compilers, and OS), applied communications theory, wireless network protocols, and computer-aided design tools. The students involved in this project currently span multiple areas (see MIT graduate program) including area I, II, III and V.

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