In the proposed R&D, Jeeva will design, implement, and characterize a protocol extension for an ultra low power backscatter networking platform which makes possible microsecond-scale time synchronization between ultra low-power sensor nodes and a wireless hub/aggregator. This will allow the unique benefits of backscatter networking to be applied in instrumentation systems for flight test and other telemetry applications, where time synchronization is a prerequisite.
Wireless instrumentation for flight testing and telemetry is viewed by ARMD as a known technology gap, and a technical challenge in IASP and FDC projects. However, implementation of conventional wireless sensing introduces concerns around battery life, weight, and volume, as well as mismatches between wireless protocol features and instrumentation system requirements.
Backscatter networking technology enables wireless data transfer at 2-3 orders of magnitude lower power than conventional radios, making it the lowest power radio link available. This translates to longer battery life in typical wireless sensor nodes, where most of the battery capacity is expended in operating the wireless link. Backscatter holds promise to substantially reduce the need to replace batteries, and/or reduce the weight/volume of batteries. However, this emerging technology doesn't yet include a means of over-the-air time synchronization, which is needed in instrumentation and telemetry applications where measurements must be taken synchronously or time-stamped.
Upon completing this project, Jeeva will have extended the backscatter networking protocol to enable wireless time synchronization between sensor node and hub, allowing synchronous data captures and time-stamping of data. A testbed will have been developed for characterization of system performance. This project will bring backscatter technology closer to readiness for applications in wireless flight test instrumentation and other wireless avionics applications.