Increasing the Awareness of IoT Devices to the RF Spectrum Usage

With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), an increasing number of wireless appliances is crowding the same unlicensed Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) frequency bands, causing severe cross-technology interference. The latter leads to loss of packets, increased delays, and to a reduced performance, especially for wireless IoT devices operating at low power. It is hence crucial for a low-power wireless IoT device to get an understanding of the RF spectrum usage in its surrounding and dynamically adapt its protocol configuration accordingly, so to maximize the dependability of its communications. Such an understanding includes, for example, which channels are highly congested, as well as which (or how many) devices are operating on a given frequency and their traffic pattern.

We are interested in finding an efficient and accurate way to obtain such an understanding of the RF spectrum usage. As collecting information using energy detection (i.e., by sampling the received signal strength at high frequency) is highly energy expensive for battery-powered IoT devices, we are also looking for possible schemes that off-load this task to more powerful and unconstrained devices. For example, wall-powered Wi-Fi devices (e.g., Raspberry Pi) can get an understanding of the RF spectrum usage and communicate this info to the surrounding low-power IoT devices using Cross-Technology Communication (CTC), a scheme that allows a direct communication between devices using incompatible wireless technologies.

Download as PDF

Research Area: Networked Embedded Systems

Thesis Type:

  • Master Project / Master Thesis

Goal and Tasks:

    Within this context, the student can explore several directions and perform different tasks, such as:
  • Explore metrics that allow to characterize the RF spectrum usage in a compact way (e.g., which channels are congested, how many devices are using these frequencies). This may also include the use of ML techniques;
  • Explore how protocols can make use of a detailed RF spectrum usage characterization;
  • Build a demonstrator where a low-power device characterizes the RF spectrum autonomously;
  • Build a demonstrator where a more powerful device (e.g., Raspberry Pi) monitors the RF spectrum usage and infers this information to a low-power IoT device using CTC.

Required competences and knowledge:

  • Knowledge of networked embedded systems;
  • Excellent C programming skills;
  • Experience with embedded platforms and operating systems such as Contiki is of advantage.


  • a.s.a.p.