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Autonomous Ubiquitous Sensing

Project details

Funded by: Oxford Martin School

Dates: January 2011 - December 2013

Main project website: Institute for the Future of Computing at the Oxford Martin School


Wireless sensor networks have a multitude of applications, for example in environmental monitoring, autonomous transport, or intelligent buildings. There are significant challenges in engineering and programming of effective sensor-based systems, in view of resource limitations of the devices and unreliability of wireless links. At the same time, sensor networks are increasingly often deployed in safety-critical contexts that require sound and autonomous decision making and guarantees on their correct behaviour. This research will bring together two hitherto separate streams of work: (1) Trigoni's group, focused on developing systems and novel algorithmic techniques for data collection in sensor networks, and (2) Kwiatkowska's VERIWARE project, which aims to develop pioneering methodology and software tools to ensure the reliability and correct behaviour for such devices, thus enabling testbed experimentation and evaluation of the techniques that is not feasible as part of existing projects.


Project summary

This project considered a broad range of software technologies for sensor-enabled devices, with particular emphasis on ensuring their safety, reliability and energy efficiency. In the initial phase, underground localisation techniques were developed using magneto-inductive tracking. Next, automated verification and strategy synthesis techniques were formulated for stochastic multi-player games and applied to: micro-grid demand-side management; collective decision making for sensor networks; ensuring trust in user-centric networks; and autonomous urban driving. In some cases flaws were discovered and corrected in existing protocols using the algorithmic techniques that have been developed. A major strand of work concerned the development of safety assurance techniques for software embedded in cardiac pacemakers, and also novel techniques for synthesising timing delays to minimise energy usage of the pacemaker device. Finally, motivated by future potential of DNA computing, which can be used to implement biosensors and smart therapeutics, we have analysed the computational potential and reliability of DNA walkers. The software technologies developed as part of this and VERIWARE projects will be incorporated in future computer-aided design tools for ubiquitous computing devices and personalised medicine.


We may already feel incredibly reliant upon technology, but will we be surrounded by sensors, feeding and receiving information, in just a few years' time? From sensors on the body that transmit medical information, to smart parking sensors enabling drivers to easily find a space in a city, the technology is already beginning to affect our everyday lives.

As part of the Oxford Martin School 2014 Hilary Term seminar series "Blurring the lines: the changing dynamics between man and machine", Professor Marta Kwiatkowska and Dr Niki Trigoni gave a seminar "Sensors everywhere? Trends and challenges in ubiquitous computing" see here.