An Energy-Efficient MAC Scheduler based on a Switched-Beam Antenna for Wireless Sensor Networks

Luca Catarinucci, Sergio Guglielmi, Luca Mainetti, Vincenzo Mighali, Luigi Patrono, Maria Laura Stefanizzi, Luciano Tarricone


Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) are receiving an ever increasing attention because they are one of the most important technologies enabling the Internet of Things vision. Since nodes of these networks are battery-powered, energy efficiency represents one of the main design objectives. This goal can be primarily achieved through an optimization of the communication phase, which is the most power consuming operation for a WSN node. However, the limited computational and storage resources of physical devices make the design of complex communication protocols particularly hard, suggesting, on the contrary, to integrate more simple communication protocols with hardware solutions aimed at energy saving. In this work, a new MAC protocol, compatible with the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, and a reconfigurable beam-steering antenna are presented and validated. They significantly reduce the nodes’ power consumption by exploiting scheduling techniques and directional communications. Specifically, both during transmission and receiving phases, the node activates exclusively the antenna sector needed to communicate with the intended neighbour. The designed antenna and the proposed protocol have been thoroughly evaluated by means of simulations and test-beds, which have highlighted their good performance. In particular, the MAC protocol has been implemented on the Contiki Operating System and it was compared with the IEEE 802.15.4 standard solution.


Contiki, MAC protocol, Performance evaluation, Switched-beam antenna, Test bed, Wireless Sensor Networks

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