In wireless networks, low-power Zigbee is an excellent network solution for wireless medical monitoring systems. Medical monitoring generally involves transmission of a large amount of data and easily causes bottleneck problems. Although Zigbee’s AODV mesh routing provides extensible multi-hop data transmission to extend network coverage, it originally does not, and needs to support some form of load balancing mechanism to avoid bottlenecks. To guarantee a more reliable multi-hop data transmission for life-critical medical applications, we have developed a multipath solution, called Load-Balanced Multipath Routing (LBMR) to replace Zigbee’s routing mechanism. LBMR consists of three main parts: Layer Routing Construction (LRC), a Load Estimation Algorithm (LEA), and a Route Maintenance (RM) mechanism. LRC assigns nodes into different layers based on the node’s distance to the medical data gateway. Nodes can have multiple next-hops delivering medical data toward the gateway. All neighboring layer-nodes exchange flow information containing current load, which is the used by the LEA to estimate future load of next-hops to the gateway. With LBMR, nodes can choose the neighbors with the least load as the next-hops and thus can achieve load balancing and avoid bottlenecks. Furthermore, RM can detect route failures in real-time and perform route redirection to ensure routing robustness. Since LRC and LEA prevent bottlenecks while RM ensures routing fault tolerance, LBMR provides a highly reliable routing service for medical monitoring. To evaluate these accomplishments, we compare LBMR with Zigbee’s AODV and another multipath protocol, AOMDV. The simulation results demonstrate LBMR achieves better load balancing, less unreachable nodes, and better packet delivery ratio than either AODV or AOMDV.
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