SENSELET: a Sensory Network infrastructure for Scientific Lab Environments

The cloud service 4Ceed and the edge device BRACELET accelerates the process of making scientific discoveries by providing researchers with the convenience to upload, examine, and process their experimental data (e.g., microscope images) and metadata (e.g., microscope settings). For researchers, an equally important information towards correct scientific experimentation, besides instrument raw data and metadata, is  sensory data around the instruments when experiments are conducted. For example, the ability to capture and control laboratory environmental sensory information such as temperature, humidity, vibration is crucial for nanofabrication. In some laboratories we have few stand-alone sensors to collect humidity data. However, it is very time consuming to manually collect and correlate those parameters with our fabrication process.

Access to environmental sensory data is also importance to laboratory managers. The prices of Transmission Electron Microscopes, Scanning Electron Microscopes, Atomic Force Microscopes, and other instruments range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. And these devices are sensible and vulnerable to environment changes, such as overheat, water leakage, or power supply disturbance. Therefore, environment monitoring and real-time emergency alert is of vital importance.

With regard to these motivations, we design a sensor network architecture for scientific lab environments. Our goal is to (a) deploy a diverse wireless and scalable sensory infrastructure in experimental labs, close to scientific instruments, and (b) correlate and synchronize sensory data with cloud-based instrument data and metadata in real-time and on-demand. SENSELET infrastructure will provide additional contextual measurements that will increase accuracy and causal relations of scientific results for scientists, and better environmental monitoring and control of scientific labs for lab managers.

The SENSELET infrastructure includes (a) wireless sensors such as humidity, temperature, vibration sensors, (b) a wireless edge device with multiple wireless interfaces including Zigbee, NFC (Near Field Communication), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), Wifi, residing in the campus building lab, and (c) cloud service in cooperation with 4CeeD cloud to store and correlate sensory data with instrument data in real-time or on-demand. SENSELET will play a foundational role in providing crucial information. It will be closely integrated with BRACELET network infrastructure and 4CeeD cloud infrastructure, already embedded in our scientific labs.

The project consists of two parts:

Senselet Edge Device:

The edge device is located in the same room as sensors. It connects to sensors with wireless communication protocols (Zigbee, BLE, etc.). The edge collects sensory data, does pre-processing, and upload them onto cloud service. This pre-processing include emergency detection, emergency alert, compressive sensing, and intrusion detection.

Cloud Side:

At the cloud side, a database is created to hold time series data. A visualization tool is provided for users to better monitor the sensor status and room environment. Configuration of Senselet and sensors is provided through a user interface.

Acknowledgement: This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (award number 1827126). The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Science Foundation.