LAVA: Fine-grained 3D indoor wireless coverage for small IoT devices
Small IoT devices deployed in challenging locations suffer from uneven 3D coverage in complex environments. This work optimizes indoor coverage with LAVA, a Large Array of Vanilla Amplifiers. LAVA is a standard-agnostic cooperative mesh of elements, i.e., RF devices each consisting of several switched input and output antennas connected to fixed-gain amplifiers. Each LAVA element is further equipped with rudimentary power sensing to detect nearby transmissions. The elements report power readings to the LAVA control plane, which then infers active link sessions without explicitly interacting with the endpoint transmitter or receiver. With simple on-off control of amplifiers and antenna switching, LAVA boosts passing signals via multi hop amplify-and-forward. LAVA explores a middle ground between smart surfaces and physical-layer relays. Multi-hopping over short inter-hop distances exerts more control over the end-to-end trajectory, supporting fine-grained coverage and spatial reuse. Ceiling testbed results show throughput improvements to individual Wi-Fi links by 50% on average and up to 100% at 15 dBm transmit power (193% on average, up to 8x at 0 dBm). ZigBee links see up to 17 dB power gain. For pairs of co-channel concurrent links, LAVA provides average per-link throughput improvements of 517% at 0 dBm and 80% at 15 dBm.