Sensor Networks

Due to the advances in electronics and (wireless) communication, the development of networks of low-cost, low-power, multi-functional sensors has received increasing attention. These sensor networks are a new type of networked, embedded computing systems and are expected to become a key technology for many pervasive computing applications.

This lecture covers the fundamental concepts of sensor networks, including hard- and software architectures, networking aspects, power-awareness, security and sensor fusion. The lecture is complemented by student talks on selected, application-oriented topics. In a related lab course (“Sensor Networks Lab”), students can get hands-on experience in developing sensor network applications.

  1. Introduction
  2. Hardware- and Software-Aspects
  3. MAC Protocols
  4. Routing
  5. Synchronization
  6. Security and Privacy
  7. Applications and Case Studies

The course takes place in the summer term and has two teaching units per week. Please check the AAU Campus site for details on schedule and lecture rooms.

Prerequisites and Related Courses

This course is primarily indented for master students in ECE or CS and PhD students in engineering. It is a mandatory course for the study branch “Communications and Networks” of the study program on “Information and Communications Engineering (ICE)”.

The course aims to cover the key technologies and methods found in sensor networks and internet of things (IoT). Participants should have passed (bachelor) courses on computer networks, communications engineering and programming. For students specializing in “pervasive computing”, it is recommended to take this course in the second semester.

Related (master) courses include pervasive computing (Rinner), wireless networks (Bettstetter), digital signal processing (Rinner) and sensors and actuators (Zangl).


The course material is available via the links below. Most of the documents are passwort protected. The passwort will be provided for enrolled students at the beginning of the course.

Code of Conduct (PDF) for studies of the Faculty of Technical Sciences.

Student presentations

The list of available topics will be announced during the semester.

  • Anwesha Gosh, Emad Ali. WirelessHART: Overview and PHY Layer (slides, summary)
  • Daniel Sekyere Asiedu, Muhammad Zaaqib Ur Rehman. WirelessHART: Data Link Layer and MAC (slides, summary)
  • Muaadh Nasr. Pulse-Coupled Clocks (slides, summary)
  • Syed Shahzaib Haider. Network Time Protocol (slides, summary)
  • Belainesh Mehari. Video Surveillance and Privacy: A Solvable Paradox (slides, summary)
  • Priyanwada Athukorala, Amir Mohamad Ghahremanian. Can Video as a Service Paradigm Lead to the Future Internet of Video Things? (slides, summary)
  • Kelvin Egbine, Mario Bidner. Survey of Energy Harvesting Technologies for WSN (slides, summary)
  • Inemesit Michael Inyang, Onajite Ego. 6G Internet of Things. (slides, summary)


There is an oral exam at the end of the semester. No documents are allowed.

The examination consists of two parts:

  • Preparation and presentation of an assigned topic
  • Oral exam  

Both parts must be successfully completed to pass the examination. One compensation is offered to students who failed in either of these examination parts.


1. Introduction

Sensing and Sensors; Sensor Network Applications; Trends in Sensor Network Development; Challenges in Sensor Networks


2. Hardware

WSN Node Architecture; Sensors; Processing Systems; I/O Interfaces; Node Examples; Energy Sources

3. Software

Operating Systems Basic: Requirements and Features; Sensor Network OS Case Studies; WSN Middleware Examples

4. MAC Protocols

MAC Overview (Characteristics, Challenges and Requirements, Contention-Based vs. Contention-Free);
Contention-Free Protocol Examples (TRAMA, Y-MAC);
Contention-Based Protocols (MACA/W, S-MAC, B-MAC)
Hybrid Protocols (Zebra MAC)

5. Routing

Overview (Centralized vs. Multi-hop, Address-based vs. Data-centric);
Data-centric Forwarding (Flooding, Gossiping, SPIN, Direct Diffusion, Rumor Routing);
Address-based Routing (AODV, DSR, DSDV, GPSR)

6. Synchronization

Overview (Motivation and Requirements, Challenges, Definitions and Basic Techniques);
Time Synchronization Protocols (Reference Broadcast Synchronization, Time-Diffusion Sync Protocol, Timing-Sync Protocol for Sensor Networks, Lightweight Tree-based Synchronization, Flooding Time Synchronization Protocol)

7. Security and Privacy

Visual Sensor Networks; Threats and attack patterns; Design challenges; Approaches towards security (data-centric, network-centric, node-centric, user-centric); Privacy in VSNs; Open issues and outlook