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The Research Corner

This page covers popular simulators, operating systems, research platforms, and popular research testbeds currently adopted for WSNs. The objective is to inform and to provide guidances to new researchers that wish to get some initial advices in choosing the appropriate tools for their tasks.

Research on WSNs is highly active, tools and platforms are constantly evolving and new architectures appearing. As a result, this page may change and be periodically updated with new inputs and research novelties. We would much appreciate to include new tools, read your comments and follow advices to help making this page comprehensive. Feel free to drop us an email.

WSN control tools

Octopus is an open-source java-based dashboard developed at University College Dublin, to visualise and to control a wireless sensor network in the TinyOS 2.x environment. Octopus provides users with a graphical user interface for viewing the live sensor network topology and control the behavior of sensor nodes, such as the energy consumption, the sampling period, the radio duty cycle and formulating application queries to the nodes. Recently the Octopus team has released the Octopus dashboard v.2.1 that includes multi-platform support, software-based energy estimation and some new features .

The MViz network visualization tool is a basic application for multihop collection network to display node parameters in TinyOS 2.x.

Surge is a java program for displaying multihop routing topology in sensor networks. The Surge can be used as a visual demonstration of the network topology and to display routes in TinyOS 2.x.

Popular WSN simulators

Ns is a C++ discrete event simulator targeted at networking research. Ns provides substantial support for simulation of TCP, routing, and multicast protocols over wired and wireless (local and satellite) networks.

Pros: Well-known simulator in the research community; Active mailing list; good development help; extensive documentation; large amount of contributing code.

Cons: Limited GUI support, may be complex to debug, not a component-based architecture like other related simulators;

WSN frameworks: Mannasim, 802.15.4.

OMNeT++ is a C++ open-source, component-based, modular and open-architecture simulation environment with strong GUI support and an embeddable simulation kernel. The simulator targets mainly communication networks but it has also been used in other areas like the simulation of IT systems, queueing networks, hardware architectures and business processes.

Pros: It has a component-based architecture, well-known WSN simulator, active mailing list, good GUI support.

Cons: Some scalability problems noticed for large-scale networks.

WSN frameworks: Castalia, Consensus, Mobility, NesCT.

Tossim is a TinyOS-based simulator for wireless sensor networks and it comes with standard installation of the operating system. It uses the nesC language that is a dialect of C used for the motes. TOSSIM simulates the TinyOS network stack at the bit level, allowing experimentation with low-level protocols and top-level application systems.

Pros: It supports network of hundreds or thousands of motes. The same code that is written for Tossim can be directly implemented onto the motes.

Cons: It can simulate code for TinyOS only. Only known inside the WSNs research sphere. It only supports mote-like devices implemented for TinyOS but not other more powerful nodes (e.g. A stargate); It cannot simulate different binaries running on different motes.

J-Sim is a component-based, compositional simulation environment. It has been built upon the notion of the autonomous component-programming model. J-Sim is a dual-language simulation environment in which classes are written in Java (for ns-2, in C++) and “glued” together using Tcl/Java.

Pros: JavaSim has a component-oriented architecture appropriated for WSNs; component code can be extended and reused; it is platform independent. Support available through mailing list; It shows better scalability and usage of memory that ns2 when simulating protocols such as GPRS or AODV.

Cons: Less known to the research community than ns2 or OmNet++;

Qualnet (ex GloMoSim) from Scalable network technologies is a C/C++ network simulator that that emphasises physical wireless networks as “software virtual networks”. QualNet performs accurate and simultaneous emulation of network devices, transmitters, antennas, terrestrial characteristics, and human interactions. it can run on multiple processor in parallel to increase the speed of the simulation. The last version 4.5 supports also sensor networks.

Pros: very good models, easy to code, scalable.

Cons: It is not an open source; basic technical support by a community forum; some people experienced delay in the forum-based technical support; advanced support to purchase.

WSN frameworks: version 4.5

Avrora is a research project of the UCLA Compilers Group that is a set of simulation and analysis tools for programs written for the AVR microcontroller produced by Atmel and the Mica2 sensor nodes. Avrora contains a framework for simulating and analyzing assembly programs, providing a clean Java API and infrastructure for experimentation, profiling, and analysis.

Pros: It is an open-source, scalability, precise timing

Cons: It specifically address AVR microcontroller, it does not address protocol-level issues.

Popular WSN operating systems

Popular Research Platform Providers

Next Generation Research Platforms

Main Conferences

EWSN, European Workshop on Wireless Sensor Networks

Comments on: "The Research Corner" (3)

  1. Hi all ,

    I am new to wireless sensor network . i have one doubt if we are implementing clustering algorithm LEACH using ns2.27(cygwin) then whether we requie mannasim or it will automatically create sensor network environment ..
    may be my question is silly but plz reply its urgent

  2. John Water said:

    NetSim v7 ( is the most widely used simulator for LEACH protocol in WSN. Using the GUI or the config file scenarios can be created. Source C code is available for modification (clustering / energy management etc).

    u can find LEACH code here if u want its implemented in matlab and NS2

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