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Technologies, Volume 8, Issue 3 (September 2020) – 14 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Robots are serving food in numerous restaurants in many parts of the world. However, waiter robots are not so competent when it comes to beverage and soup delivery. The problem arises in their jerky motion control, although they are widely used as industrial robots. In this paper, we examined the kinematic solutions from ROS and the constraints of motion planning and proposed solutions with jerk limits using spline velocity profiles. State machine design that enables the robot to behave and move reactively will be introduced to effectively balance desired velocity with managing the type of load. Experiments have shown that robots can move smoothly without crashing or spilling. The control of velocity behaviors has enhanced waiter robot operations in restaurants. View this paper
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Article
Wire Tool Electrode Behavior and Wear under Discharge Pulses
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030049 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1123
Abstract
This work is devoted to researching the tool electrode behavior and wear under discharge pulses at electrical discharge machining. The experiments were conducted on the workpieces of 12Kh18N10T (AISI 321) chrome-nickel anti-corrosion steel and D16 (AA 2024) duralumin by a 0.25-mm-diameter CuZn35 brass [...] Read more.
This work is devoted to researching the tool electrode behavior and wear under discharge pulses at electrical discharge machining. The experiments were conducted on the workpieces of 12Kh18N10T (AISI 321) chrome-nickel anti-corrosion steel and D16 (AA 2024) duralumin by a 0.25-mm-diameter CuZn35 brass tool in a deionized water medium. The developed diagnostic and monitoring mean based on acoustic emission registered the oscillations accompanying machining at 4–8 kHz. The obtained workpiece and non-profiled tool surfaces were investigated by optical and scanning electron microscopy. Calculated volumetric and mass removal rates showed the difference in the character of wear at roughing and finishing. It was shown that interaction between material components in anti-corrosion steel machining had an explosive character between Zn of brass and Ni of steel at a micron level and formed multiple craters of 30–100 µm. The secondary structure and topology of worn tool surfaces were caused by material sublimation, chemical interaction between material components at high heat (10,000 °C), explosive deposition of the secondary structure. Acoustic diagnostics adequately registered the character of interaction. The observed phenomena at the submicron level and microstructure of the obtained surfaces provide grounding on the nature of material interactions and electrical erosion wear fundamentals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reviews and Advances in Materials Processing)
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Article
Hot Isostatic Pressing of Aluminum–Silicon Alloys Fabricated by Laser Powder-Bed Fusion
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030048 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1069
Abstract
Hot isostatic pressing can be utilized to reduce the anisotropic mechanical properties of Al–Si–Mg alloys fabricated by laser powder-bed fusion (L-PBF). The implementation of post processing densification processes can open up new fields of application by meeting high quality requirements defined by aircraft [...] Read more.
Hot isostatic pressing can be utilized to reduce the anisotropic mechanical properties of Al–Si–Mg alloys fabricated by laser powder-bed fusion (L-PBF). The implementation of post processing densification processes can open up new fields of application by meeting high quality requirements defined by aircraft and automotive industries. A gas pressure of 75 MPa during hot isostatic pressing lowers the critical cooling rate required to achieve a supersaturated solid solution. Direct aging uses this pressure related effect during heat treatment in modern hot isostatic presses, which offer advanced cooling capabilities, thereby avoiding the necessity of a separate solution annealing step for Al–Si–Mg cast alloys. Hot isostatic pressing, followed by rapid quenching, was applied to both sand cast as well as laser powder-bed fused Al–Si–Mg aluminum alloys. It was shown that the critical cooling rate required to achieve a supersaturated solid solution is significantly higher for additively manufactured, age-hardenable aluminum alloys than it is for comparable sand cast material. The application of hot isostatic pressing can be combined with heat treatment, consisting of solution annealing, quenching and direct aging, in order to achieve both a dense material with a small number of preferred locations for the initiation of fatigue cracks and a high material strength. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances and Innovations in Manufacturing Technologies)
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Review
Hydrogel-Based Technologies for the Diagnosis of Skin Pathology
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030047 - 02 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1733
Abstract
Hydrogels, swellable hydrophilic polymer networks fabricated through chemical cross-linking or physical entanglement are increasingly utilized in various biomedical applications over the past few decades. Hydrogel-based microparticles, dressings and microneedle patches have been explored to achieve safe, sustained and on-demand therapeutic purposes toward numerous [...] Read more.
Hydrogels, swellable hydrophilic polymer networks fabricated through chemical cross-linking or physical entanglement are increasingly utilized in various biomedical applications over the past few decades. Hydrogel-based microparticles, dressings and microneedle patches have been explored to achieve safe, sustained and on-demand therapeutic purposes toward numerous skin pathologies, through incorporation of stimuli-responsive moieties and therapeutic agents. More recently, these platforms are expanded to fulfill the diagnostic and monitoring role. Herein, the development of hydrogel technology to achieve diagnosis and monitoring of pathological skin conditions are highlighted, with proteins, nucleic acids, metabolites, and reactive species employed as target biomarkers, among others. The scope of this review includes the characteristics of hydrogel materials, its fabrication procedures, examples of diagnostic studies, as well as discussion pertaining clinical translation of hydrogel systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Technologies Reviews)
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Article
Hardware Implementation of a Softmax-Like Function for Deep Learning
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 46; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030046 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1701
Abstract
In this paper a simplified hardware implementation of a CNN softmax-like layer is proposed. Initially the softmax activation function is analyzed in terms of required numerical accuracy and certain optimizations are proposed. A proposed adaptable hardware architecture is evaluated in terms of the [...] Read more.
In this paper a simplified hardware implementation of a CNN softmax-like layer is proposed. Initially the softmax activation function is analyzed in terms of required numerical accuracy and certain optimizations are proposed. A proposed adaptable hardware architecture is evaluated in terms of the introduced error due to the proposed softmax-like function. The proposed architecture can be adopted to the accuracy required by the application by retaining or eliminating certain terms of the approximation thus allowing to explore accuracy for complexity trade-offs. Furthermore, the proposed circuits are synthesized in a 90 nm 1.0 V CMOS standard-cell library using Synopsys Design Compiler. Comparisons reveal that significant reduction is achieved in area × delay and power × delay products for certain cases, respectively, over prior art. Area and power savings are achieved with respect to performance and accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MOCAST 2019: Modern Circuits and Systems Technologies on Electronics)
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Article
Microwave-Assisted Industrial Scale Cannabis Extraction
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030045 - 21 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2028
Abstract
Cannabis is a flowering plant that has long been used for medicinal, therapeutic, and recreational purposes. Cannabis contains more than 500 different compounds, including a unique class of terpeno-phenolic compounds known as cannabinoids. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most [...] Read more.
Cannabis is a flowering plant that has long been used for medicinal, therapeutic, and recreational purposes. Cannabis contains more than 500 different compounds, including a unique class of terpeno-phenolic compounds known as cannabinoids. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most extensively studied cannabinoids. They have been associated with the therapeutic and medicinal properties of the cannabis plant and also with its popularity as a recreational drug. In this paper, an industrial method for cannabis extraction using 915 MHz microwaves coupled with continuous flow operation is presented. The main advantages of the microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) are associated to the continuous-flow operation at atmospheric pressure which allows for higher volumes of biomass to be processed in less time than existing extraction methods, with improved extraction efficiency leading to increased final product yields, improved extract consistency and quality because the process does not require stopping and restarting material flows, and ease of scale-up to industrial scale without the use of pressurised batch vessels. Moreover, due to the flexibility of changing the operation conditions, MAE eliminates additional steps required in most extraction methods, such as biomass decarboxylation or winterisation, which typically adds at least a half day to the extraction process. Another factor that sets MAE apart is the ability to achieve high extraction efficiency, i.e., up to 95% of the active compounds from cannabis biomass can be recovered at industrial scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Microwave Technologies and Its Applications)
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Article
Waiter Robots Conveying Drinks
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 44; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030044 - 11 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1642
Abstract
Robots have been reportedly seen serving food in several restaurants in many parts of the world. New ventures have been deploying mechanical partners which promote the growth in service robotics. However, robots are considerably incompetent when it comes to beverage and soup delivery. [...] Read more.
Robots have been reportedly seen serving food in several restaurants in many parts of the world. New ventures have been deploying mechanical partners which promote the growth in service robotics. However, robots are considerably incompetent when it comes to beverage and soup delivery. The physical challenge behind the clumsy motion of these machines is found to be its jerky motion control. Jerk control solutions are widely studied in a constrained environment but not well introduced in dynamic environments. In this paper, we will begin by examining developed kinematics solutions, open-source packages from Robot Operating System and the constraints of motion planning. The proposed solution in this paper provides a quick system response with jerk limits using spline velocity profiles. The solution will introduce the concepts of a state machine design that enables the robot to behave and move reactively; effectively balancing its desired velocity and position without spilling a drop of customer satisfaction. Experiments have proven that robots can move at higher velocity without any crashing, spilling, or docking issues. The smooth velocity control proposed will improve the capabilities of waiter robot and service operations in restaurants. Full article
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Article
Surface Modification of Dielectric Substrates by Broad Beams of High-Energy Atoms of Inert Gases
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030043 - 01 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1238
Abstract
We present a new method to generate a neutral beam for surface treatment of materials by fast atoms of inert gases. The new method allows for treatment at lower pressures enlarging the scope for glow discharge applications. To generate the monoenergetic neutral beam, [...] Read more.
We present a new method to generate a neutral beam for surface treatment of materials by fast atoms of inert gases. The new method allows for treatment at lower pressures enlarging the scope for glow discharge applications. To generate the monoenergetic neutral beam, a grid composed of parallel plates is placed inside a vacuum chamber, a glow discharge plasma was generated, and a beam was formed by pulsing the grid to 30 kV to extract ions from the glow discharge. The ions were then neutralized by small-angle scattering at the surfaces of the grid. By applying the high voltage for 50 µs with a repetition frequency of 50 Hz, heating of the target could be limited to 100 °C (instead of 700 °C when running continuously). We present results showing the uniformity of the created beam and its energy distribution using Doppler-shift measurement. Finally, we show friction measurement of treated alumina pieces as a working example of an application of this technology. Full article
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Article
Perceived Usefulness, Satisfaction, Ease of Use and Potential of a Virtual Companion to Support the Care Provision for Older Adults
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030042 - 25 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1850
Abstract
This article reports a study aiming to determine the perceptions of older adults needing formal care about the usefulness, satisfaction, and ease of use of CaMeLi, a virtual companion based on an embodied conversational agent, and the perceptions of formal caregivers about the [...] Read more.
This article reports a study aiming to determine the perceptions of older adults needing formal care about the usefulness, satisfaction, and ease of use of CaMeLi, a virtual companion based on an embodied conversational agent, and the perceptions of formal caregivers about the potential of virtual companions to support care provision. An observational study involving older adults needing formal care was conducted to assess CaMeLi using a multi-method approach (i.e., an auto-reported questionnaire—the Usefulness, Satisfaction, and Ease of use questionnaire; a scale for the usability assessment based on the opinion of observers—the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health-based Usability Scale; and critical incident registration). Moreover, a focus group was conducted to collect data regarding the perceived utility of virtual companions to support care provision. The observational study was conducted with 46 participants with an average age of 63.6 years, and the results were associated with a high level of usefulness, satisfaction, and ease of use of CaMeLi. Furthermore, the focus group composed of four care providers considered virtual companions a promising solution to support care provision and to prevent loneliness and social isolation. The results of both the observational study and the focus group revealed good perceptions regarding the role of virtual companions to support the care provision for older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Information and Communication Technologies)
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Article
A Space-Time Correlation Model for MRC Receivers in Rayleigh Fading Channels
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030041 - 22 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1332
Abstract
This paper presents a statistical model for maximum ratio combining (MRC) receivers in Rayleigh fading channels enabled with a temporal combining process. This means that the receiver effectively combines spatial and temporal branch components. Therefore, the signals that will be processed by the [...] Read more.
This paper presents a statistical model for maximum ratio combining (MRC) receivers in Rayleigh fading channels enabled with a temporal combining process. This means that the receiver effectively combines spatial and temporal branch components. Therefore, the signals that will be processed by the MRC receiver are collected not only across different antennas (space), but also at different instants of time. This suggests the use of a retransmission, repetition or space-time coding algorithm that forces the receiver to store signals in memory at different instants of time. Eventually, these stored signals are combined after a predefined or dynamically optimized number of time-slots or retransmissions. The model includes temporal correlation features in addition to the space correlation between the signals of the different components or branches of the MRC receiver. The derivation uses a frequency domain approach (using the characteristic function of the random variables) to obtain closed-form expressions of the statistics of the post-processing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) under the assumption of equivalent correlation in time and equivalent correlation in space. The described methodology paves the way for the reformulation of other statistical functions as a frequency-domain polynomial root analysis problem. This is opposed to the infinite series approach that is used in the conventional methodology using directly the probability density function (PDF). The results suggest that temporal diversity is a good complement to receivers with limited spatial diversity capabilities. It is also shown that this additional operation could be maximized when the temporal diversity is adaptive (i.e., activated by thresholds of SNR), thus leading to a better resource utilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reviews and Advances in Internet of Things Technologies)
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Article
The Requirements for New Tools for Use by Pilots and the Aviation Industry to Manage Risks Pertaining to Work-Related Stress (WRS) and Wellbeing, and the Ensuing Impact on Performance and Safety
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030040 - 06 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3059
Abstract
Work is part of our wellbeing and a key driver of a person’s health. Pilots need to be fit for duty and aware of risks that compromise their health/wellbeing. Recent studies suggest that work-related stress (WRS) impacts on pilot health and wellbeing, performance, [...] Read more.
Work is part of our wellbeing and a key driver of a person’s health. Pilots need to be fit for duty and aware of risks that compromise their health/wellbeing. Recent studies suggest that work-related stress (WRS) impacts on pilot health and wellbeing, performance, and flight safety. This paper reports on the advancement of new tools for pilots and airlines to support the management of WRS and wellbeing. This follows from five phases of stakeholder evaluation research and analysis. Existing pre-flight checklists should be extended to enable the crew to evaluate their health and wellbeing. New checklists might be developed for use by pilots while off duty supporting an assessment of (1) their biopsychosocial health status and (2) how they are coping. This involves the advancement of phone apps with different wellness functions. Pending pilot consent, data captured in these tools might be shared in a de-identified format with the pilot’s airline. Existing airline safety management systems (SMS) and flight rostering/planning systems might be augmented to make use of this data from an operational and risk/safety management perspective. Fatigue risk management systems (and by implication airline rostering/flight planning systems) need to be extended to consider the relationship between fatigue risk and the other dimensions of a pilot’s wellbeing. Further, pending permission, pilot data might be shared with airline employee assistance program (EAP) personnel and aeromedical examiners. In addition, new training formats should be devised to support pilot coping skills. The proposed tools can support the management of WRS and wellbeing. In turn, this will support performance and safety. The pilot specific tools will enable the practice of healthy behaviors, which in turn strengthens a pilot’s resistance to stress. Healthy work relates to the creation of positive wellbeing within workplaces and workforces and has significant societal implications. Pilots face many occupational hazards that are part of their jobs. Pilots, the aviation industry, and society should recognize and support the many activities that contribute to positive wellbeing for pilots. Social justice is a basic premise for quality of employment and quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Information and Communication Technologies)
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Article
Blue-Green Smart Mobility Technologies as Readiness for Facing Tomorrow’s Urban Shock toward the World as a Better Place for Living (Case Studies: Songdo and Copenhagen)
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 39; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030039 - 02 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1880
Abstract
Nowadays, we are on the cusp of a future that will face many global challenges and crises, as well as unforeseeable shocks of tomorrow. The rapid growth and development of technology will bring forth exponential change that may challenge and threaten our human [...] Read more.
Nowadays, we are on the cusp of a future that will face many global challenges and crises, as well as unforeseeable shocks of tomorrow. The rapid growth and development of technology will bring forth exponential change that may challenge and threaten our human psychology. Solutions and policies are needed to deal with today’s challenges, tomorrow’s shocks, and global crises to preserve the world and mankind for the future. In this research, Blue-Green sustainable mobility technologies are introduced as a pathway to create modern sustainable and livable urban areas to tackle these challenges. Clean and inclusive mobility, based on Blue-Green and sustainable infrastructure, low emission greenhouse gases, ubiquitous computing, smartness and digitalization is realized as one of the keys that could make the world a better place for living. This research examines inclusive transportation technology, its indicators and its impacts on creating modern livable urban areas with high a quality of life as a pathway to navigate the cusp of tomorrow. Furthermore, the roles of technology such as Information Technology, Internet of Things, Internet of Business, Internet of Manufacturing, and Internet of Energy as technology tools to develop such mobility is investigated. Literature reviews, surveys, case studies—including Songdo as a ubiquitous city and Copenhagen as a digital and clean city—and revised versions of Kiwi and Kampenhood and BESQoL (built environment sustainability and quality of life) methodologies are the main methods in this study. New concepts of mobility technology and eventuating cultural synergies, as a readiness for facing tomorrow’s world crises with a higher quality of life and well-being by using the 5th wave theory, are discussed. Full article
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Article
Wear Resistance and Titanium Adhesion of Cathodic Arc Deposited Multi-Component Coatings for Carbide End Mills at the Trochoidal Milling of Titanium Alloy
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 38; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030038 - 30 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1774
Abstract
The work was devoted to the study of the effectiveness of the application of multi-component coatings, TiN–Al/TiN, TiN–AlTiN/SiN, and CrTiN–AlTiN–AlTiCrN/SiN, obtained by cathodic arc deposition to increase the wear resistance of 6WH10F carbide end mills in trochoidal milling of titanium alloy. The surface [...] Read more.
The work was devoted to the study of the effectiveness of the application of multi-component coatings, TiN–Al/TiN, TiN–AlTiN/SiN, and CrTiN–AlTiN–AlTiCrN/SiN, obtained by cathodic arc deposition to increase the wear resistance of 6WH10F carbide end mills in trochoidal milling of titanium alloy. The surface morphology of the tool with coatings was studied using scanning electron microscopy, and surface roughness texture was estimated. Microhardness and elastic modulus of the coated carbide tool surface layer were determined by nanoindentation. The process of sticking titanium to the working surface of the tool and quantitative evaluation of end mill wear with multi-component coatings at the trochoidal strategy of milling titanium alloy was studied. The CrTiN–AlTiN–AlTiCrN/SiN coating showed the maximum value of the plasticity index at the level of 0.12. The maximum effect of reducing the wear rate was achieved when using a tool with a CrTiN –AlTiN–AlTiCrN/SiN coating when the operating time to failure of end mills was increased by 4.6 times compared to samples without coating, by 1.4 times compared with TiN–Al/TiN coating and 1.15 times compared with TiN–AlTiN/SiN coating. Full article
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Article
Autonomous Smart White Cane Navigation System for Indoor Usage
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 37; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030037 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2066
Abstract
According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organization, the number of people suffering from visual impairment is approximately 1.3 billion. The number of blind and visually impaired people is expected to increase over the coming years, and it is estimated to [...] Read more.
According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organization, the number of people suffering from visual impairment is approximately 1.3 billion. The number of blind and visually impaired people is expected to increase over the coming years, and it is estimated to triple by the end of 2050 which is quite alarming. Keeping the needs and problems faced by the visually impaired people in mind, we have come up with a technological solution that is a “Smart Cane device” that can help people having sight impairment to navigate with ease and to avoid the risk factors surrounding them. Currently, the three main options available for blind people are using a white cane, technological tools and guide dogs. The solution that has been proposed in this article is using various technological tools to come up with a smart solution to the problem to facilitate the users’ life. The designed system mainly aims to facilitate indoor navigation using cloud computing and Internet of things (IoT) wireless scanners. The goal of developing the Smart Cane can be achieved by integrating various hardware and software systems. The proposed solution of a Smart Cane device aims to provide smooth displacement for the visually impaired people from one place to another and to provide them with a tool that can help them to communicate with their surrounding environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reviews and Advances in Materials Processing)
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Article
Evaluation of Epidemic-Based Information Dissemination in a Wireless Network Testbed
Technologies 2020, 8(3), 36; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/technologies8030036 - 28 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1557
Abstract
Information dissemination is an integral part of modern networking environments, such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Probabilistic flooding, a common epidemic-based approach, is used as an efficient alternative to traditional blind flooding as it minimizes redundant transmissions and energy consumption. It shares some [...] Read more.
Information dissemination is an integral part of modern networking environments, such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Probabilistic flooding, a common epidemic-based approach, is used as an efficient alternative to traditional blind flooding as it minimizes redundant transmissions and energy consumption. It shares some similarities with the Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) epidemic model, in the sense that the dissemination process and the epidemic thresholds, which achieve maximum coverage with the minimum required transmissions, have been found to be common in certain cases. In this paper, some of these similarities between probabilistic flooding and the SIR epidemic model are identified, particularly with respect to the epidemic thresholds. Both of these epidemic algorithms are experimentally evaluated on a university campus testbed, where a low-cost WSN, consisting of 25 nodes, is deployed. Both algorithm implementations are shown to be efficient at covering a large portion of the network’s nodes, with probabilistic flooding behaving largely in accordance with the considered epidemic thresholds. On the other hand, the implementation of the SIR epidemic model behaves quite unexpectedly, as the epidemic thresholds underestimate sufficient network coverage, a fact that can be attributed to implementation limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reviews and Advances in Internet of Things Technologies)
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