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  1. Wireless communication over long distances has become the bottleneck for battery-powered, large-scale deployments. Low-power protocols like Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy have limited communication range, whereas long-range communication strategies like cellular and satellite networks are power-hungry. Technologies that use narrow-band communication like LoRa, SigFox, and NB-IoT have low spectral efficiency, leading to scalability issues. The goal of this work is to develop a communication framework that is energy efficient, long-range, and scalable. We propose, design, and prototype WiChronos, a communication paradigm that encodes information in the time interval between two narrowband symbols to drastically reduce the energy consumption in a wide area network with large number of senders. We leverage the low data-rate and relaxed latency requirements of such applications to achieve the desired features identified above. We design and implement chirp spread spectrum transmitter and receiver using off-the-shelf components to send the narrowband symbols. Based on our prototype, WiChronos achieves an impressive 60% improvement in battery life compared to state-of-the-art LPWAN technologies in transmission of payloads less than 10 bytes at experimentally verified distances of over 4 km. We also show that more than 1,000 WiChronos senders can co-exist with less than 5% collision probability under low traffic conditions. 
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  2. The food and drug industry is facing the need to monitor the quality and safety of their products. This has made them turn to low-cost solutions that can enable smart sensing and tracking without adding much overhead. One such popular low-power solution is backscatter-based sensing and communication system. While it offers the promise of battery-less tags, it does so at the cost of a reduced communication range. In this work, we propose PACT - a scalable communication system that leverages the knowledge asymmetry in the network to improve the communication range of the tags. Borrowing from the backscatter principles, we design custom PACT Tags that are battery-less but use an active radio to extend the communication range beyond standard passive tags. They operate using the energy harvested from the PACT Source. A wide-band Reader is used to receive multiple Tag responses concurrently and upload them to a cloud server, enabling real-time monitoring and tracking at a longer range. We identify and address the challenges in the practical design of battery-less PACT Tags using an active radio and prototype them using off-the-shelf components. We show experimentally that our Tag consumes only 23μJ energy, which is harvested from an excitation Source that is up to 24 meters away from the Tag. We show that in outdoor deployments, the responses from an estimated 520 Tags can be received by a Reader concurrently while being 400 meters away from the Tags.

     
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