Theses Doctoral

Energy Harvesting Networked Nodes: Measurements, Algorithms, and Prototyping

Gorlatova, Maria

Recent advances in ultra-low-power wireless communications and in energy harvesting will soon enable energetically self-sustainable wireless devices. Networks of such devices will serve as building blocks for different Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as searching for an object on a network of objects and continuous monitoring of object configurations. Yet, numerous challenges need to be addressed for the IoT vision to be fully realized. This thesis considers several challenges related to ultra-low-power energy harvesting networked nodes: energy source characterization, algorithm design, and node design and prototyping. Additionally, the thesis contributes to engineering education, specifically to project-based learning. We summarize our contributions to light and kinetic (motion) energy characterization for energy harvesting nodes. To characterize light energy, we conducted a first-of-its kind 16 month-long indoor light energy measurements campaign. To characterize energy of motion, we collected over 200 hours of human and object motion traces. We also analyzed traces previously collected in a study with over 40 participants. We summarize our insights, including light and motion energy budgets, variability, and influencing factors. These insights are useful for designing energy harvesting nodes and energy harvesting adaptive algorithms. We shared with the community our light energy traces, which can be used as energy inputs to system and algorithm simulators and emulators. We also discuss resource allocation problems we considered for energy harvesting nodes. Inspired by the needs of tracking and monitoring IoT applications, we formulated and studied resource allocation problems aimed at allocating the nodes' time-varying resources in a uniform way with respect to time. We mainly considered deterministic energy profile and stochastic environmental energy models, and focused on single node and link scenarios. We formulated optimization problems using utility maximization and lexicographic maximization frameworks, and introduced algorithms for solving the formulated problems. For several settings, we provided low-complexity solution algorithms. We also examined many simple policies. We demonstrated, analytically and via simulations, that in many settings simple policies perform well. We also summarize our design and prototyping efforts for a new class of ultra-low-power nodes - Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs). Future EnHANTs will be wireless nodes that can be attached to commonplace objects (books, furniture, clothing). We describe the EnHANTs prototypes and the EnHANTs testbed that we developed, in collaboration with other research groups, over the last 4 years in 6 integration phases. The prototypes harvest energy of the indoor light, communicate with each other via ultra-low-power transceivers, form small multihop networks, and adapt their communications and networking to their energy harvesting states. The EnHANTs testbed can expose the prototypes to light conditions based on real-world light energy traces. Using the testbed and our light energy traces, we evaluated some of our energy harvesting adaptive policies. Our insights into node design and performance evaluations may apply beyond EnHANTs to networks of various energy harvesting nodes. Finally, we present our contributions to engineering education. Over the last 4 years, we engaged high school, undergraduate, and M.S. students in more than 100 research projects within the EnHANTs project. We summarize our approaches to facilitating student learning, and discuss the results of evaluation surveys that demonstrate the effectiveness of our approaches.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Zussman, Gil
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013