IoT Networking: Path to Ubiquitous Connectivity

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IoT Networking: Path to Ubiquitous Connectivity

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Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us with the number of IoT connected devices reach- ing 17.68 billion in the year 2016 and keeps an increasing rate of 17%. The popularity of IoT brings the prosperity and diversity of wireless technologies as one of its founda- tions. Existing wireless technologies, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and LTE, are evolving and new technologies, such as SigFox and LoRa, are proposed to satisfy various needs under emerging application scenarios. For example, WiFi is evolving to provide higher throughput with the novel 802.11ac technology and the Bluetooth SIG has proposed the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to support low-power applications. However, wireless technologies are victims of their own success. The vastly increasing wireless devices compete for the limited wireless spectrum and result in the performance degradation of each device. What makes it worse is that diverse wireless devices are using heterogeneous PHY and MAC layers designs which are not compliant with each other. As a result, sophisticated wireless coordination methods working well for each homogeneous technology are not applicable in the heterogeneous wireless scenario for the failure to communicate among heterogeneous devices. This dissertation aims at fundamentally solving the burden of communication in today’s heterogeneous wireless environment. Specifically, we try to build direct communication among heterogeneous wireless technologies, referred to as the cross-technology communication (CTC). It is counter-intuition and long believed impossible, but we find two opportunities in both the packet level and physical (PHY) layer to make the challenging mission possible. First, wireless devices are commonly able to do energy-sensing of wireless packets in the air. Energy sensing is capable to figure out packet-level information, such as the packet duration and timing. Based on the energy-sensing capability, we design DCTC, a CTC technology that piggybacks cross-technology messages within the timing of transmitted wireless packets. Specifically, we slightly perturb the timing of packets emitted from a wireless device to form detectable energy patterns to establish CTC. Testbed evaluation has shown that we can successfully transmit information at 760bps while keeping the delay of each packet no longer than 0.5ms under any traffic pattern. Second, in the PHY layer, high-end wireless technologies are flexible, i.e., a larger symbol set, in the modulation and demodulation. With careful choices of symbols, those wireless technologies are able to emulate and decode the PHY layer signal of a low-end one. We propose two systems BlueBee and XBee which aim at building direct com- munication between two heterogeneous IoT technologies, Bluetooth and ZigBee, with the idea of signal emulation and cross-decoding respectively. The former achieves signal emulation by carefully choosing the Bluetooth payload bits so that the output signal emulates a legitimate ZigBee packet which can be successfully demodulated by a com- modity ZigBee devices without any changes. The latter proposes a general method to support the bidirectional communication in the PHY-layer CTC by moving the complex- ity to the high-end receiver for the demodulation of signal from a low-end transmitter. Our testbed evaluation has shown that our technologies successfully boost the data rate of the state of the arts by over 10,000x times, which is approaching the ZigBee standard. This result makes CTC possible to play more roles in real-time applications, such as network coordination. In summary, this dissertation provides a new communication paradigm in a heteroge- neous wireless environment, which is to provide direct communication for heterogeneous wireless devices. Such communication is built upon two opportunities: (i) wireless de- vices are capable to sense energy in the air so that specifically designed energy patterns can transmit cross-technology information; (ii) a high-end wireless technology is more flexible and possible to emulate and demodulate the signal from a low-end technology for communication. The technologies developed in the dissertation will be the build- ing blocks for the future designs of efficient channel coordination and ubiquitous data exchange among heterogeneous wireless devices.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2019. Major: Computer Science. Advisor: Tian He. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 105 pages.

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Jiang, Wenchao. (2019). IoT Networking: Path to Ubiquitous Connectivity. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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