Development of Synchronized High-Sensitivity Wireless Accelerometer for Structural Health Monitoring

Shaik Althaf Veluthedath Shajihan, Raymond Chow, Kirill Mechitov, Yuguang Fu, Tu Hoang, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The use of digital accelerometers featuring high sensitivity and low noise levels in wireless smart sensors (WSSs) is becoming increasingly common for structural health monitoring (SHM) applications. Improvements in the design of Micro Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) based digital accelerometers allow for high resolution sensing required for SHM with low power consumption suitable for WSSs. However, new approaches are needed to synchronize data from these sensors. Data synchronization is essential in wireless smart sensor networks (WSSNs) for accurate condition assessment of structures and reduced false-positive indications of damage. Efforts to achieve synchronized data sampling from multiple WSS nodes with digital accelerometers have been lacking, primarily because these sensors feature an internal Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) to which the host platform has no direct access. The result is increased uncertainty in the ADC startup time and thus worse synchronization among sensors. In this study, a high-sensitivity digital accelerometer is integrated with a next-generation WSS platform, the Xnode. An adaptive iterative algorithm is used to characterize these delays without the need for a dedicated evaluation setup and hardware-level access to the ADC. Extensive tests are conducted to evaluate the performance of the accelerometer experimentally. Overall time-synchronization achieved is under 15 µs, demonstrating the efficacy of this approach for synchronization of critical SHM applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4169
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 27 2020


  • synchronized sensing
  • high-sensitivity accelerometer
  • wireless smart sensor
  • digital output sensor
  • structural health monitoring
  • time synchronization

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