The current surge in wireless sensor network research has led to the extensive use of network simulation software to simulate new and novel protocols. Analysis via simulation allows for the validation of protocols before being fully deployed in physical networks. Though superior in modeling RF signals and network operations, current wireless network simulation software lack fully functional sensor models that replicate a sensor’s interaction with the environment. Realistic and specific sensor models do exist, however very little has been incorporated into commonly used network simulators. It is questionable whether the typical approach of modeling sensed data as random processes offers anything close to reality. It is, therefore, the goal of this work to investigate the feasibility and benefit of developing user-configurable sensor models in a widely used network simulation software called OPNET. This work examines various types of sensors and categorizes them based on the way the sensors may be modeled in OPNET. Sensors are grouped into four distinct categories as follows. The first group, called ambient sensors, is used to categorize sensors that sense information in its surroundings such as ambient temperature and humidity. The second group of sensors are called self-characterizing sensors. These type of sensors are used to help a wireless node identify its physical properties, including acceleration and internal temperature. Sensors that help a wireless node identify external objects are called objectcharacterizing sensors. This group is further subdivided into two sections, intrusive and non-intrusive sensors. An intrusive object characterizing sensor sends out energy in some waveform and interprets data from the waveform reflected back. Sensors in this category include ultrasonic and sonar sensors. Finally, non-intrusive sensors characterize an object passively, such as that done by infrared heat sensors. Leveraging the well-defined Wireless Module in OPNET, an infrared thermal imaging sensor module, typically used for detection and tracking, will be developed and examined. Results via simulation will demonstrate the benefit of utilizing the developed sensor model as compared to traditional approaches used in network simulation. Feasibility and benefits for modeling other sensor types, such as velocity and global positioning sensors will also be examined.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

OPNET--Evaluation; Sensor networks--Computer simulation; Wireless LANs--Computer simulation

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Computer Engineering (KGCOE)


Yang, Shanchieh

Advisor/Committee Member

Glenn, Chance

Advisor/Committee Member

Kudithipudi, Dhireesha


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TK7872.D48 K747 2007


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