On the Challenges of Acoustic Energy Mapping Using a WASN: Synchronization and Audio Capture

Sensors (Basel). 2023 May 10;23(10):4645. doi: 10.3390/s23104645.


Acoustic energy mapping provides the functionality to obtain characteristics of acoustic sources, as: presence, localization, type and trajectory of sound sources. Several beamforming-based techniques can be used for this purpose. However, they rely on the difference of arrival times of the signal at each capture node (or microphone), so it is of major importance to have synchronized multi-channel recordings. A Wireless Acoustic Sensor Network (WASN) can be very practical to install when used for mapping the acoustic energy of a given acoustic environment. However, they are known for having low synchronization between the recordings from each node. The objective of this paper is to characterize the impact of current popular synchronization methodologies as part of the WASN to capture reliable data to be used for acoustic energy mapping. The two evaluated synchronization protocols are: Network Time Protocol (NTP) y Precision Time Protocol (PTP). Additionally, three different audio capture methodologies were proposed for the WASN to capture the acoustic signal: two of them, recording the data locally and one sending the data through a local wireless network. As a real-life evaluation scenario, a WASN was built using nodes conformed by a Raspberry Pi 4B+ with a single MEMS microphone. Experimental results demonstrate that the most reliable methodology is using the PTP synchronization protocol and audio recording locally.

Keywords: acoustic mapping; beamforming; synchronization; wireless acoustic sensor network.