REU: Wireless Sensor Networks
The advancements in microelectronics, wireless communications, digital signal processing, and nano-technologies, have significantly accelerated the applications of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), ranging from environmental and habitat monitoring to space
exploration. The unobtrusiveness, low power requirements, and low cost of wireless sensor nodes make them ideal candidates for data collection; and WSNs have become an indispensible component in our daily lives.
The REU Site objectives include:
- introducing WSN concepts and applications to undergraduate students;
- providing opportunities for collaborative project-based research with hands-on experience in a multidisciplinary atmosphere;
- providing students with opportunities to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to solve real world problems;
- providing a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to carryout research projects specifically designed for the REU participants in state-of-the-art laboratories under the guidance of faculty and graduate student mentors;
- providing opportunities for the REU participants to themselves act as mentors to younger students;
- fostering a strong bond and team spirit amongst the participants; and
- motivating the REU participants to pursue advanced graduate-level degrees in STEM disciplines.
Previous Year's REU
Developing a Remote Digital Wildlife Cam Trigged by Spatially Deployed Infrared Sensors
Background: Digital Wildlife Cams are very popular for scouting wild animals. They allow biologists to monitor the activities of wild animals, without having to be physically present. A senior project team, led by the REU faculty, developed a remotely accessible wildlife cam that would automatically transmit images to the user’s PC. One major problem with game cams is their sensing mechanism and corresponding viewing area. Most game cams use a differential passive infrared (PIR) sensor configuration to detect the heat signatures of passing game, which triggers the camera to take its picture. The problem with this sensing mechanism is that it has a very limited range, up to approximately 30 feet. This is highly inadequate for monitoring most fields, which are normally much larger than 30 feet across, such that much of the wildlife passing through may not trigger the sensors, and therefore the camera will not take their picture.
Objective: With the previously developed wildlife cam project as a starting point, this project will develop a remote access digital wildlife cam that can monitor a field significantly larger than what can be monitored with a traditional wildlife cam. To achieve this objective, multiple wireless nodes equipped with PIR sensors will be deployed inside of an area in the shape of a circle, with the digital cam being the center and a radius equal to the maximum viewing distance of the digital cam. The game cam will be mounted on a servo motor such that its direction can be adjusted and it can freely point in any direction. If one of the sensors detect the heat signature of passing wildlife, the digital cam will be triggered and turn toward the sensor. If the sensor is located at the far field of the digital cam, the lens will be zoomed to obtain an enlarged picture of the animal. The deployment of wireless infrared sensor nodes significantly expands the monitoring area far beyond the typical 30 feet.
Research Approach: This project contains two sub-modules: the development of the control station connected to the digital cam, and the development of the wireless sensor nodes. The digital cam is connected to a control station that serves two functions. The control station serves as the base station of the WSN such that it can receive data from all the spatially deployed wireless sensor nodes; in addition, it also controls the operation of the servo motor and digital cam such that it will take pictures in the right direction. The control station will be built in the form of an embedded system with a microcontroller to achieve data fusion and digital cam control. The sensor nodes will be developed by utilizing the 2.4 GHz IRIS Mote system from Crossbow Technologies. The previous system used a digital radio to transmit the pictures; however, a cell phone could also be used to achieve virtually unlimited transmission distance, as long as a cell phone tower was within range of where the system was deployed.
Game Cam Sensor Node
Game Cam Base Station
Developing a Smart Home Monitoring System
Background: Smart home refers to a residence that is automated through a network of communication and electronic devices, which cooperate transparently to provide protection, comfort, and entertainment to the inhabitant(s). Smart home provides automation to most households operations, such as intrusion alarm, climate control, house cleaning, and health monitoring, through a unified computer controlled interface. WSN is an integral component of smart home. Automated sensors, home appliances, and computing devices in a smart home are usually equipped with wireless transceivers such that they can exchange information with each other. For example, the sensing of movement in an area can automatically turn on the lights and adjust the temperature. Moreover, the communication capability of the electronic devices enables the remote monitoring of residence conditions and the remote management of residence operations. Smart home, which is still in its infancy, can greatly improve the usability, comfort, and safety of one’s home.
Objective: This project will develop a remote monitoring and management system for a partly automated home equipped with motion and temperature sensors. The system consists of two modules, an alarm module to notify the house owner (e.g., send a text message to the owner’s cell phone) and sound an alarm in case of unexpected conditions, such as intrusion or unusually high temperature, and a remote management module that allows users to remotely adjust temperature and turn on lights in certain rooms before they get home. The remote monitoring and management operation can be performed either through a cell phone text message or a web interface.
Research Approach: The remote monitoring system is comprised of multiple wireless sensors and a base station. All the sensors are equipped with IEEE 802.15.6-2004 compliant ZigBee wireless transceivers. The base station is equipped with a ZigBee wireless transceiver, a GPRS modem, an Ethernet interface, and an embedded web server. The communication between the sensors and the base station is performed through the ZigBee wireless links. The remote monitoring and management functions are performed through the GPRS modem for wireless control, or through the Ethernet interface for web based control. The base station is an integrated embedded system with wireless and wired communication capabilities. It can be implemented with a Rabbit BCM3350 Microcontroller.
Temperature and Humidity Sensor Node
Base Station with Camera and Alarm Lights
Wireless Sensor Network Overview
Block Diagram of a WSN
Conceptual Diagram of a WSN