RFID-scale sensors present a new frontier for distributed sensing. In contrast to existing sensor deployments that rely on battery-powered sensors, RFID-scale sensors rely solely on harvested energy. These devices sense and store data when not in contact with a reader, and use backscatter communication to upload data when a reader is in range. Unlike conventional RFID tags that only transmit identifiers, RFID sensors need to transfer potentially large amounts of data to a reader during each contact event. In this paper, we propose several optimizations to the RFID network stack to support efficient bulk transfer while remaining compatible with existing Gen 2 readers. Our key contribution is the design of a coordinated bulk transfer protocol for RFID-scale sensors that maximizes channel utilization and minimizes energy lost due to idle listening while also minimizing collisions. We present an implementation of the protocol for the Intel WISP, and describe several parameters that are tuned using empirical measurements that characterize the wireless channel. Our results show that the burst protocol improves goodput in comparison to vanilla EPC Gen 2 tags, improves energy-efficiency, allows multiple RFID sensors to share the channel, and also coexists with passive, non-sensor tags.
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