Development of an underground through-soil wireless acoustic communication system

Sijung Yang, Omar Baltaji, Andrew C. Singer, Youssef M.A. Hashash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The practical development of WUSN would benefit numerous applications, including online infrastructure monitoring, earthquake warning systems, and agricultural automation. However, stateof- the-art RF electromagnetic wireless systems are ineffective for communicating through-soil, due to extreme signal path losses from absorption and scattering in soil, even though the typical data requirements for such applications are modest, ranging from tens to hundreds of bps. In contrast, elephants, rodents and a wide variety of insects use acoustic waves for communicating through-soil, suggesting the viability of soil as a communication channel, and of acoustic waves as carriers. In this article, we demonstrate how soil can be used as a communication medium for wireless acoustic digital communication over distances up to 50 m at 20 bps data rates. By leveraging a physical model of the soil channel derived from its identified characteristics, then employing QPSK and OOK modulation and sparse decision feedback equalization schemes, and exploiting well-coupled and matched acoustic sources, wireless digital communication was successful in both laboratory and field experiments, illustrating the viability of sending application- specific data, ranging from binary sensor readings to low-resolution images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8926315
Pages (from-to)154-161
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Wireless Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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