Leveraging the Power line to Support Very Low Power, Whole-House Wireless Sensing

Erich P. Stuntebeck, Rahul Rajan, Tom Robertson, Gregory Abowd, Shwetak Patel

Ubiquitous Computing Group, Fall 2009

Abstract: A persistent concern of wireless sensor networks is the power consumption for communication, which presents a significant adoption hurdle. This work explores the use of the home powerline as a distributed reception antenna capable of receiving signals from very low-power wire- less sensors and thus allowing these sensors to be detected at ranges that are otherwise impractical with over-the-air reception. We present several experiments that test the home powerline at various frequencies and show that the unlicensed 27.12 MHz band is an optimal choice for this task. We then demonstrate a wireless sensor network platform for the home that leverages this phenomenon and is able to be sensed throughout a home with just a 6.3 μA average current draw for the radio.