Joint Centers of Excellence Program

Wireless sensor networks / Body area networks

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) concept, a new series of challenges and research opportunities have risen up. The distinction between a WSN and a BAN is not so well defined any more. Modern and future networks are composed of heterogeneous devices, which can sense environmental quantities, physiological signals, new connection opportunities, and so on. These devices will have to be integrated in a single logical network of networks in which they can communicate with other devices whose characteristics and capabilities might vary widely. They will thus need to be context-aware, in order to connect to the right network and perform the requested task. E.g., a physiological sensor should be able to automatically connect to the BAN of the person who is wearing it, and should share the physiological data only with the BAN owned by that person.

We plan to reach the challenging goal of a context-aware network of networks by:
- Studying existing WSN and BAN characteristics;
- Creating a heterogeneous ad hoc network of smart sensor nodes that can measure both environmental and networking data and perform network operations;
- Designing, testing and implementing new techniques to organize, in an optimal and secure way, the structure and connectivity of the network.

According to this plan, we need to develop a network composed of smart devices (which will be responsible for organizing the network), and different types of sensors, which can be integrated in the smart devices or can be independent nodes. The main challenge will be to develop optimal network organization and in ensuring secure connection and transmission of data from the sensors to the smart nodes over a multi-hop heterogeneous network. Wireless sensor networks will need to gather data with a distributed network organization and optimizing energy consumption as well as reconstruction error. In body area networks, the routing and transport protocol become less important, since often the network is organized in a star topology, or in a two hops network. But in BANs it will be necessary to optimize MAC and physical layers since the nodes have usually very strict energy constraints.