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Low latency for packet delivery, high throughput, good reactivity, and energy-efficient operation are key challenges that MAC protocols for Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) have to meet. Since traffic patterns as well as network load may change during network lifetime, adaptability of the protocol stack, e.g. in terms of duty cycling, and the integration of reliable transport mechanisms are mandatory. So far, given that optimizations for energy-efficiency and performance parameters are contradicting, most MAC protocols proposed have concentrated on either one or the other. In order to close this gap, we designed BEAM (Burst-aware Energy-efficient Adaptive MAC). BEAM uses a new adaptive duty cycle mechanism, which reacts quickly to changing traffic loads and traffic patterns. The integration of explicit acknowledgments allows for supporting hop-to-hop reliability, lowering the overall energy expenditures of the network for end-to-end transmissions. The protocol itself is IEEE 802.15.4 conform and can easily be used for energy-efficient TCP/IP networking. As a result, BEAM performs well in entirely different environments and application scenarios, making it an all-purpose MAC protocol for WSNs.
Date of Conference: 15-18 June 2010