Sensors & Behavior (ARPA-E) > Technology Projects

Open Extensible Communication Network

Overlapping, closed commercial standards have plagued and limited flexibility and innovation in Home Area Networks (HANs).




Investigators: Phil Levis, Maria Kazandjieva

HANs with an open and expandable communications protocol will allow for unforeseen behavior change opportunities. For example, if research finds that frequent real-time feedback about energy use is effective at changing user behavior, having an open and extensible underlying technology will make it easier to provide such data. An open technology also provides greater freedom in data collection, representation, storage and communication between devices of different manufacturers, all leading to innovations and improvements in human interfaces to sensor-actuator networks.

This project developed an open-source code that can be used on a wide range of sensor hardware. The protocol developed is called RPL ("ripple"), or Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks. The researchers followed this protocol standardization with supporting and managing an open-source implementation of RPL in the TinyOS operating system, which was written by Prof. Levis and used by tens of thousands of people worldwide.

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Publications and Presentations

Green Enterprise Computing Data: Assumptions and Realities
Proceedings of the Third International Green Computing Conference (IGCC)
Kazandjieva, M., Heller, B., Gnawali, O., Levis, P., Kozyrakis, C. (2012)

Identifying Energy Waste through Dense Power Sensing and Utilization Monitoring (898KB PDF)
The 8th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys) Zurich, Switzerland
Levis, P., Kazandjieva, M. (2010).

Energy Dumpster Diving (898KB PDF)
Presented at Power Aware Computing and System (Hot Power)
Kazandjieva, M., Heller, B., Levis, P., & Kozyrakis, C. (2009)

Future work

This work helped establish the first Internet standard for HANs, which is being adopted by industrial consortia such as WirelessHART and ZigBee. The open source implementation of the protocol in TinyOS provides a starting point for its demonstration and improvement, both through research and engineering. The embedded wireless plug meters demonstrated low-cost ways to densely measure computing energy and established techniques on how to collect and analyze such data. This ready-made hardware and software solution will reduce the cost of entry for new companies and lower the bar for innovation.