Synchronization Protocols and Implementation Issues in Wireless Sensor Networks: A Review

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Time synchronization in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) is a topic that has been attracting the research community in the last decade. Most performance evaluations of the proposed solutions have been limited to theoretical analysis and simulation. They consequently ignored several practical aspects, e.g., packet handling jitters, clock drifting, packet loss, and mote limitations, which affect real implementation on sensor motes. Authors of some pragmatic solutions followed empirical approaches for the evaluation, where the proposed solutions have been implemented on real motes and evaluated in testbed experiments. This paper gives an insight on issues related to the implementation of synchronization protocols in WSN. The challenges related to WSN environment are presented; the importance of real implementation and testbed evaluation are motivated by some experiments we conducted. The most relevant implementations of the literature are then reviewed, discussed, and qualitatively compared. While there are several survey papers that present and compare the protocols from the conception perspectives, as well as others that deal with mathematical and signal processing issues of the estimators, a survey on practical aspects related to the implementation is missing. To our knowledge, this paper is the first one that takes into account the practical aspect of existing solutions.
Computer networks, sensor systems, wireless communication, wireless networks, wireless sensor networks