Illinois Institute of Technology students presented their real-time communications projects to a crowd of communications professionals at the end of the semester. Students researched, tested, and deployed solutions as part of the project-based learning approach at the School of Applied Technology. Students provided a working system and had to defend it to a crowd of industry professionals—some with 30 years of experience.
Student presentations covered a wide range of topics from interconnected VoIP services to Bluetooth beacons. Student project descriptions are outlined below:
Real-Time Communications Lab Projects and Activities: Carol Davids, adjunct faculty and director of the Real-Time Communications Lab at Illinois Institute of Technology, provided a brief overview of the projects active in the lab this past semester, which included—
- Interconnected VoIP Services: Students built small VoIP services using different proxies and back-to-back user agents. They showed how calls flow between their systems and to the emergency services backbone network (ESInet) and to the PSTN. An application that masks emergency calls from evil doers was also demonstrated. Thanks to industry partners SignalWire, Telnyx, and NexVortex for their support for these projects.
BlueTooth and Sensor Array (BOSSA) Platform Developments: An array of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons whose locations are recorded in a cloud-based database is used to identify the indoor location of emergency callers as well as to supply temperature, humidity, air-pressure, and other environmental data. Students described applications, operations, and experiments related to this platform and what it can do to support smart cities, smart buildings, and emergency services. Projects included:
- BLE Beacon Development: RUUVI beacons provide more functions and more programmability than AXA beacons. The RUUVIs can advertise not only their IDs but also the readings obtained from their on-board temperature, humidity, air-pressure, and acceleration sensors.
- Bluetooth Gateway Development: Gateways are used to provide administrative support for the array and also to transmit temperature, humidity, air pressure, and acceleration at administratively-controlled intervals. Their design and operation along with experimentation using Raspberry Pis instead of RedBear chips was presented.
- New Installations: This semester students installed beacons in a building with large open spaces. They described the process and the results of experiments to determine the accuracy of our indoor location algorithm in this new environment.
- Experimentation: The lab did a series of experiments designed to identify how the Received Signal Strength (RSSI) varies with distance, temperature, and with a variety of different environments and obstacles: walls, doors, the indoor and outdoor environments, and more. Students learned how long the beacons would continue to broadcast in a burning building exposed to flames and recorded its behavior.