Innovations in Wireless Sensors Focus of New Lab

April 10, 2008 - News Release

Imagine being able to swallow a tiny sensor that helps doctors with diagnosis, or a system that tells a farmer when it's time for harvest, or a device that tracks climate and weather patterns in inaccessible areas for search and rescue missions.

These are just some of the potential developments that could come out of a new Wireless Network Laboratory opening at the University of Guelph.

Funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) – and matching provincial money and private funds - the high-tech lab will help equip U of G researchers to develop new ways of using wireless networking and mobile computing.

"Wireless networks and mobile systems have become a hot topic," said computer and information science professor Nidal Nasser, one of the researchers who will be using the lab. "Nobody can work without a cell phone or a mobile device."

The lab, which is expected to be up and running this fall, will allow Nasser and his collaborators to study potential applications including security, human health, agriculture and biology.

Researchers will be looking at developing networks of wireless sensors that can transmit information to a single computer.

This type of technology could lead to dropping devices that monitor movement or climatic conditions in remote or inaccessible area, sensors that can track animal movement or behaviour for wildlife biologists or a system that can monitor traffic flow and alert drivers of road conditions, he said.

Nasser is particularly interested in looking at how sensors communicate among themselves and with a central computer.

"We're focusing on the whole network," he said. "We need to figure out all the protocols, like how to use sensors with an optimum amount of power."

He is also using part of the $274,000 in CFI funding to improve heterogeneous wireless systems such as linking the communication between the wireless network inside a building with the wireless cell network outside to prevent the loss of cell phones calls while you are leaving or entering a building.

As part of his research, Nasser is also exploring possible links with life sciences researchers including biologists, crop scientists, food scientists, engineers, environmental scientists.

"This is my goal. I feel the University of Guelph is a good place to discover things and have collaborations with different departments."

Nidal Nasser
Department of Computing and Information Science
519-824-4120, Ext. 53834

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1