Carlos Pérez-Penichet, Dilushi Piumwardane, Christian Rohner and Thiemo Voigt TagAlong: Efficient Integration of Battery-free Sensor Tags in Standard Wireless Networks. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks, ACM/IEEE IPSN ’20. Piscataway, NJ, USA: IEEE Press. (2020).
New battery-free sensor tags that interoperate with unmodified standard IoT devices can extend a sensor network’s capabilities in a scalable and cost-effective manner. The tags achieve battery-free operation through backscatter-related techniques, while the standard IoT devices can provide the necessary unmodulated carrier, avoiding additional dedicated infrastructure. However, this approach presents multiple challenges: It requires coordination between nodes transmitting, receiving and generating carrier, adds extra latency and energy consumption to already constrained devices, and increases interference and contention in shared spectrum. We present TagAlong, a medium access mechanism for interoperable sensor tags that, besides coordinating, optimizes the use of carrier generators, minimizing the disruption caused to the operation of the regular nodes.
We accomplish this by parallelizing communications with battery-free tags when possible, sharing carriers for multiple tags concurrently and synchronizing communications with tags that share carrier generators. We demonstrate the feasibility of TagAlong in a testbed deployment. In our evaluation we find that it can reduce the duration of the tags’ schedule by 60% while improving the energy and spectrum usage by 30% when compared to sequential interrogation with no difference in reliability.