Energy Efficient Wireless Communications using Wake-up Radio Technology

In wireless environments, transmission and reception costs dominate system power consumption, motivating research effort on new technologies capable of reducing the footprint of the radio, paving the way for the Internet of Things. The most important challenge is to reduce power consumption when receivers are idle, the so called idle-listening cost. One approach proposes switching off the main receiver, then introduces new wake-up circuitry capable of detecting an incoming transmission, discriminating the packet destination using addressing, then switching on the main radio only when required. This wake- up receiver (WuRx) technology represents the ultimate frontier in low power radio communication.

As a consequence of the extremely low power, such radios are incapable of decoding general data and thus are often delegated the task of listening for a trigger, leading to the terminology wake-up radio. While wake-up technology has been steadily evolving over the last decade in the hardware arena, few protocols have been developed to exploit it. Towards this end, we provide WaCo, a wake-up radio COOJA extension that allows exploration of the capabilities of the wake-up radio from the desktop environment. With our extended simulator, we have concretely shown the potential benefits of the wake-up radio hardware with two, standard data collection protocols. The results simultaneously confirm that wake-up technology has tremendous potential and that the simulator extension provides an effective mechanism for such exploration.

This nice infographic from IEEE shows the problem discussed above and how WuR can be used to overcome it.


  • Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Distributed Sensing
  • Internet of Things
  • Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks
  • Low Power Networking

Wake-up Radio Enabled Protocols

To further reduce power consumption of mobile devices, it is necessary to tightly integrate wake-up radio and power-hungry data transceiver to realize fine, micro sleep/wake-up control, e.g., using wake-up radio for carrier sense and activating a high data throughput high power node. To exploit this, we provide wake-up radio enabled Transmitter-Initiated and Receiver-Initiated Medium Access Control (MAC) protocols.

Research results have been published in IEEE Communication Surveys and Tutorials (pdf), EWSN 2017 (pdf), and IEEE LCN Workshops 2017 (pdf).

Advantages for this Technology for enabling Lower Power IoT

With wake-up radio, wireless receiver systems can achieve a significantly longer operating life. At the same time allowing a high degree of scalability of the devices power consumption with its data rate. This ensures several years of battery operation, or fully autonomous operation via energy harvesting. Furthermore, basic functions, frequency bands, and additional functionality can be modified to fit the application requirements.

Field of Applications

IoT applications require low energy consumption and rapid response capability at minimum cost. The wake-up radio technology embraces these challenges as opportunities and offers the adequate solution for numerous wireless applications. Accordingly, the Ultra Low Power wireless receiver offers utility across a vast array of applications including building automation, intelligent lighting, electronic labels, remote maintenance, remote control and wireless sensor and actuator networks.

Research Projects

  • WaCo

    Wake-up Radio Simulator

    WaCo is an extension to Contiki and COOJA and allows exploration of the capabilities of the wake-up radio from the desktop environment. It can be used with the standard data collection protocols such as Contiki Collect or RPL. WaCo also provides a straightforward MAC module called W-MAC, which uses the WuR as a trigger for the standard CC2420 radio, and offers the same interface as other popular MAC protocols, allowing it to easily sit below standard routing protocols mentioned above.

    Publications related to the project

    • “WaCo: A Wake-Up Radio COOJA Extension for Simulating Ultra Low Power Radios”, Rajeev Piyare, Timofei Istomin, Amy L. Murphy In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks (EWSN), Uppsala, Sweden, February 2017. PDF

    To access the open-source codes for this project check out the link here.

  • Wake-up Radio Technology Development

    Design and Optimization of Wake-up radio hardware.


    Children's Independent Mobility

    Independent and active mobility (i.e. walking or cycling in the neighborhood without adult supervision) is important for children and adolescents physical, social, cognitive and emotional development. Unfortunately, many parents restrict their children’s movement around their local neighborhood due to safety concerns.
    Our challenge is to make children mobility a safe, social and fun experience by exploiting transformative ICT technologies to:
    • integrate all relevant crowd/open services and data available in the neighborhood (e.g., available children mobility services, traffic information, safe routes, supervised crossings, help and support places),
    • provide wearable devices and Apps for the community of end-users to organize, manage, and monitor children daily mobility.
    As part of this project, I work in collaboration with Smart Community lab on the design of Bluetooth Low Energy library for the iOS devices that interact with the wearable devices carried by the kids. For more information see here.