Document Type

Technical Report


Computer Science and Engineering

Publication Date






Technical Report Number



Home area networks (HANs) consisting of wireless sensors have emerged as the enabling technology for important applications such as smart energy and assisted living. A key challenge faced in deploying robust wireless sensor networks (WSNs) for home automation applications is the need to provide long-term, reliable operation in the face of the varied sources of interference found in typical residential settings. To better understand the channel dynamics in these environments, we performed an in-depth empirical study of the performance of HANs in ten real-life apartments. Our empirical study leads to several key insights into designing robust HANs for residential environments. For example, we discover that there is not always a persistently good channel over 24 hours in many apartments; that reliability is strongly correlated across adjacent channels; and that interference does not exhibit cyclic behavior at daily or weekly timescales. Nevertheless, reliability can be maintained through a small number of channel hops. Based on these insights, we propose Adaptive and Robust Channel Hopping (ARCH) protocol, a lightweight receiver-oriented protocol which handles the dynamics of residential environments by reactively channel hopping when channel conditions have degraded. We evaluate our approach through a series of simulations based on real data traces as well as a testbed deployment in real-world apartments. Our results demonstrate that ARCH can reduce the number of packet retransmissions by a median of 42.3% compared to using a single, fixed wireless channel, and can enable up to a 2.2 X improvement in delivery rate on the most unreliable links in our experiment. Due to ARCH's lightweight reactive design, this improvement in reliability is achieved with an average of 6 or fewer channel hops per link per day.


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