The research program is mainly focused on the technological issues related to intelligent systems and their ability to be distributed in an environment to solve complex problems. This central topic stems from the description of intelligent systems as products that use communication channels, electronics, microprocessors and software technologies to accomplish predefined tasks, e.g., control objectives given to an autonomous mechatronic system. Embedded systems are fundamental for intelligent products and can be considered as computing systems dedicated to special purposes. These systems will radically change the future through new products as well as sophisticated product development, a trend that has  just been started. Indeed, a lot people don't realise that the embedded computer is by far the most common form of computer in use today; most of the consumer products that surround us, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines or lawn mowers, are more or less complex and embedded systems. Our city streets, homes and working places are supplied with embedded systems in order to control and regulate lighting, comfort and different protection or safety features. There are two relevant aspects of embedded computers in real life: the necessity of robust and dedicated electronics and the increasing need for communication links between each embedded system. Dedicated electronics is in demand since embedded systems are frequently used in harsh environment and add substantial value to products. Indeed, within the next five years, the share of embedded systems is expected to increase substantially  automotive, industrial automation, telecommunications, consumer electronics and health/medical equipment markets. Moreover, the value added to the final product by embedded technologies and software is much higher than the cost of the device itself. For example, in case of a modern car, by 2010 over 35% of its value will be due to embedded electronics. This trend is emphasized in a distributed network of embedded apparatuses, where each computing or sensing system may be regarded as a wireless network node that concurs to the global goal achievement.

In this embedded distributed framework, our research activities include, but  not limited to, distributed algorithms, to develop lightweight distributed applications to adapt to time-varying and heterogeneous environments and to correctly collect and fuse information gathered from different sources, general methodologies, for system level architectures, paradigms and methodologies design in order to implement resource intensive algorithms, and modelling, related to the development of power aware devices and protocol design. Furthermore, researches in the field of measurements,devising new type of sensing techniques for physical quantities and emphasizing low power and heterogeneous sensors integration and fusion, and of microsensors and MEMS, for highly integrated network nodes, are also deeply investigated. Finally, prototyping for performance assessment using system prototyping-based on resource constrained-platforms will be an additional research field.

Sensors and microsystems

The goal of this research line is the development of novel sensors and microsystems for scientific, industrial and consumer applications, fabricated using micro-electronic and micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS) technologies.
The related activities include design, numerical simulation and modeling, electrical and functional characterization, and also contribution to the development of dedicated fabrication technologies, mainly using the facilities available at Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK). In parallel, custom analog readout and signal processing circuits are designed, both discrete and integrated with commercial CMOS technologies.
The main topics in this research line are:

  • Particle and ionizing radiation detectors
  • Optical and image sensors
  • Interface electronics for sensors
  • MEMS and biosensors

Systems and Networks

Designing and implementing modern distributed systems, tackling the challenges of developing large scale, dynamic and secure infrastructures, with a strong emphasis on validating research outcomes.

This research laboratory is concerned with the design and implementation of modern distributed systems and networks, increasingly characterized by stringent requirements in terms of high performance, Quality of Service, large scale, dynamicity, and security.

The research laboratory tackles the challenges of distributed systems at all levels, spanning from the definition of systems, to distributed algorithms, to middleware and language constructs, to the implementation of application-level protocols and system services (including the ones provided by operating system kernel, the drivers, but also user-space system daemons that are critical for the system's reliability and performance, and for the QoS perceived by the users), to routing and networking problems, including P2P paradigm and wireless systems (WSN, mesh networks, ad-hoc systems, ...).

A strong emphasis is placed on validating the research outcomes through implementation of real systems and simulations.