Pulse Switching: An Ultra-light Multi-hop Network Paradigm without Packet Abstraction

Project Sponsored by NSF NeTS Program: Award # 0915851

Overall Objective:

The purpose of this project is to develop a novel pulse switching framework for ultra light-weight networking applications involving severely resource-constrained embedded devices. The key idea is to abstract a single pulse, as opposed to multi-bit packets, as the network switching granularity. Pulse switching can be shown to be sufficient for on-off style event monitoring applications for which a monitored parameter can be modeled using just a binary variable. Monitoring such events with conventional packet paradigm can be prohibitively inefficient due to the communication, processing, and buffering overheads of the large number of bits within packet data, header, and preambles for synchronization. In the proposed paradigm, an event can be coded as a single pulse, which is then transported multi-hop while preserving sufficient information so that a sink can derive certain spatio-temporal context information about the event in question. The resulting operational lightness, leveraged via zero collisions, zero buffering, no addressing, no packet processing, and an ultra-low communication energy budget makes the framework applicable for embedded devices such as Radio Frequency Identifiers operating with ultra-tight energy budgets, such as from harvested energy.