EE/CS Paper Wins National Award for New Communication Topics

Energy-Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs) are small, flexible, and energetically self-reliant devices that can be attached to objects that are traditionally not networked (e.g., books, furniture, walls, doors, toys, keys, clothing, and produce), thereby providing the infrastructure for various novel tracking applications. Examples of these applications include locating misplaced items, continuous monitoring of objects (items in a store, boxes in transit), and determining locations of disaster survivors.
A paper by Electrical Engineering Ph.D. student and SEAS Presidential Scholar Maria Gorlatova, Computer Science Professor Dan Rubenstein, and Electrical Engineering Professors Peter Kinget, Ioannis Kymissis, Xiadong Wang, and Gil Zussman won the 2011 IEEE Communications Society Award for Outstanding Paper on New Communication Topics
 
The paper, titled "Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs) for Ubiquitous Object Networking", appeared in the IEEE Wireless Communications Dec. 2010 Special Issue on "The Internet of Things: the Next Big Thing in Communications?". The paper describes the design challenges posed by a new class of ultra-low-power devices referred to as Energy-Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs).
 
The IEEE Communications Society Award for Outstanding Paper on New Communication Topics is given to "outstanding papers that open new lines of work, envision bold approaches to communication, formulate new problems to solve, and essentially enlarge the field of communications engineering." It is given to a paper published in any IEEE Communications Society publication in the previous calendar year. The award will be presented at the 2011 IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM'2011) award ceremony.
 
The EnHANTs project is an interdisciplinary project that focuses on developing small, flexible, and energetically self-reliant devices. These devices could be attached to objects that are traditionally not networked (e.g., books, furniture, walls, doors, toys, keys, clothing, and produce), thereby providing the infrastructure for various novel tracking applications. Examples of these applications include locating misplaced items, continuous monitoring of objects (items in a store, boxes in transit), and determining locations of disaster survivors.
 
Recent advances in ultra-low-power wireless communications, ultra-wideband (UWB) circuit design, and organic electronic harvesting techniques will enable the realization of EnHANTs in the near future. In order for EnHANTs to rely on harvested energy, they have to spend significantly less energy than devices based on technologies such as Bluetooth and Zigbee. Moreover, the harvesting components and the ultra-low-power physical layer have special characteristics whose implications on the higher layers communications and networking protocols have yet to be studied.
 
Seed funding for the project was provided by Google. In 2009 the project won the first place in the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Competition. Recently, the project received a $1.2M grant from the National Science Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security.
 

 

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