Temperature-resilient time synchronization for the internet of things

Atis Elsts*, Xenofon Fafoutis, Simon Duquennoy, George Oikonomou, Robert Piechocki, Ian Craddock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
293 Downloads (Pure)


Networks deployed in real-world conditions have to cope with dynamic, unpredictable environmental temperature changes. These changes affect the clock rate on network nodes, and can cause faster clock de-synchronization compared to situations where devices are operating under stable temperature conditions. Wireless network protocols, such as time-slotted channel hopping (TSCH) from the IEEE 802.15.4-2015 standard, are affected by this problem, since they require tight clock synchronization among all nodes for the network to remain operational. This paper proposes a method for autonomously compensating temperature-dependent clock rate changes. After a calibration stage, nodes continuously perform temperature measurements to compensate for clock drifts at runtime. The method is implemented on low-power Internet of Things (IoT) nodes and evaluated through experiments in a temperature chamber, indoor and outdoor environments, as well as with numerical simulations. The results show that applying the method reduces the maximum synchronization error more than ten times. In this way, the method allows reduction in the total energy spent for time synchronization, which is practically relevant concern for low data rate, low energy budget TSCH networks, especially those exposed to environments with changing temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2250
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics
Issue number5
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Structured keywords

  • Digital Health


  • Communication networks
  • thermal factors


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