Dense Indoor Sensor Networks: Towards passively sensing human presence with LORAWAN

Jascha Grübel*, Tyler Thrash, Leonel Aguilar, Michal Gath-Morad, Didier Hélal, Robert W. Sumner, Christph Hölscher, Victor R. Schinazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Sensors have become ubiquitous in buildings but are rarely connected to a network, and their potential to analyse the performance, use, and interaction with a building is not yet fully realised. In the coming years, we expect sensors in buildings to become part of the Internet of Things (IOT) and grow in numbers to form a Dense Indoor Sensor Network (DISN) that allows for unprecedented analysis of the performance, use, and interaction with buildings. Multiple technologies vie for leading this transformation. We explore Long Range Wide Area Network (LORAWAN) as an alternative for creating indoor sensor networks that extends beyond its original long-distance communication purpose. For the present paper, we developed a DISN with 390 sensor nodes and four gateways and empirically evaluated its performance for two years. Our analysis of more than 86 million transmissions revealed that DISNs achieve a much lower distance coverage compared to estimations from previous research indicating that more gateways are required. In addition, the deployment of multiple gateways decreased the loss of transmissions due to environmental and network factors. Given the complexity of our system, we received few colliding concurrent messages, which demonstrates a gap between the projected requirements of LORAWAN systems and the actual requirements of real-world applications given sufficient gateways. We also contribute to the modelling of transmissions with our comparison of attenuation models derived from multiple methodologies. Across all models, we find that robust coverage in an indoor environment can be maintained by placing a gateway every 30 m and every 5 floors. Finally, we also investigate the application of DISNs for the passive sensing and visualisation of human presence using a Digital Twin (DT) and a Fused Twins (FT) representation in Augmented Reality (AR). A passive sensing approach allows us to gather relevant data on human use of a building while still preserving privacy via the aggregation process. Immersive in situ visualisations in FT allow for new interactions and new forms of participation. We conclude that DISNs are already technologically feasible today and basing them on Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) offers intriguing possibilities to reduce energy consumption, maintenance cost, and bandwidth use while also enabling new forms of human-building interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101640
JournalPervasive and Mobile Computing
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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