Profs Rubenstein (CS), Kinget, Kymissis, Wang, and Zussman Receive a $1.2M NSF Grant

September 26, 2010

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the team of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering investigators for a research proposal entitled "Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs)". The grant has been awarded by the Network Science and Engineering (NetSE) program.
Within the framework of the EnHANTs project, the interdisciplinary research team aims to develop thin, flexible tags of a few square cm, that can be attached to everyday objects such as clothing, furniture, walls, books, toys, and other household and office items. The tags will harvest energy available in the environment such as light or vibration energy. They will communicate with each other over short distances to form ad-hoc networks.
EnHANTs will be a disruptive technology that will allow networking virtually every object around us to enable the creation of cyber-physical systems through the tight integration of communication, networking and computation. Novel applications, not available with today's technologies, include lost item recovery, object tracking, disaster recovery, and emergency alerts. EnHANTs will further enable to expand the 'Internet of Things' to include everyday objects that are traditionally not networked.
The research program takes an interdisciplinary cross-layered design approach in order to address the severe energy constraints that are imposed by the need to survive on harvested energy alone. Such severe energy restrictions impose ultra-low power requirements that are much stricter than those in traditional technologies. Meeting these requirements will give EnHANTs the capability to remain functional in highly energy-constrained environments. The severe energy constraints imply that a total rethinking of functionalities such as energy harvesting and storage, communications, and networking is needed. Hence, the team combines expertise in networking, communications, low-power electronics, and organic energy-harvesting devices in order to make the efficiency improvements of several orders of magnitude that are required for the realization of EnHANTs.
In particular, new flexible organic energy harvesting and storage devices will be combined with energy management electronics; ultra low power pulse-based wideband wireless communications will be combined with novel pulse communication techniques for ultra-low power wireless connectivity; and, novel networking paradigms will build on an energy-driven approach to provide ad-hoc networking and interfaces with traditional networks and computing devices. A test platform of networked tags will be developed and deployed in order to demonstrate the energy harvesting, communication, and networking components.
The EnHANTs project has also been supported by Google and the Vodafone Americas Foundation. More details about the NSF grant can be found here.