COMPSCI 654/690W: Advanced Wireless Networking and Sensing in IoT


TuTh 10:00AM - 11:15AM (Computer Science Building Room 142)


Jie Xiong            Email:;         Office hour: Wednesday 10am-11am, A341 LGRC;


Binbin Xie          Email:;    Office hour: Monday 2pm-3pm, A245 LGRC;

Course Ddescription

Nowadays, wireless technologies (e.g., 802.11 Wi-Fi) do not only provide data service but also cater to diverse applications including indoor localization, contact-free activity sensing, medical implant tracking and charging, virtual reality (VR) and autonomous driving. This course introduces the students with fundamentals in wireless networking and the state-of-the-art wireless sensing applications in the Era of Internet-of-Things. Wireless sensing is an active research area which involves wireless communication, signal processing, human computer interaction, machine learning and hardware prototyping. The intrinsic nature of sensor-free and contact-free makes wireless sensing particularly appealing in current pandemic compared to traditional sensor-based sensing. The latest research in wireless sensing has enabled many novel and exciting applications. For example, Wi-Fi signals can now be employed to differentiate very similar materials such as Pepsi and Coke. You can place your phone on the desk and turn the desk surface into a touch (input) panel with acoustic sensing. We can employ LoRa signals to sense your respiration even 50 meters away with a wall in between without any sensors. This course contains lectures, two midterm exams, paper presentation, and paper criticism.

Course Objectives

Students in this 3-credit course will learn the basic concepts of wireless networking and wireless sensing. Each concept will be illustrated by real-world examples and demonstrated through homework exercises. Students will get familiar with wireless technologies used in our everyday life such as WiFi, LTE, RFID and LoRa. Students will also learn the latest advance in wireless sensing including the underlying principles and wireless sensing-enabled applications including passive localization, gesture recognition, vital sign monitoring, material sensing and wireless charging. Students will get a general idea of exploiting wireless technologies for not just data communication but also supporting a large range of IoT applications.

Turning your table into an input panel without any sensor or wearable. (UbiComp '18)

By employing the acoustic signal generated when your fingers slide on the desk surface, we can turn your desk surface into an input panel. Our system can recognize numbers, letters and gestures (click, flip, scroll, zoom, etc.)

Earphone-based movement Tracking. (SenSys '20)

We include the earphone into the ecosystem of acoustic motion tracking. We hold an earphone microphone for tracking. The two earphone speakers keep emitting out ultrasound signals humans cannot hear and the received signals at the microphone are used to track the microphone movement continuously in a fine-grained manner. The accuracy is in the scale of mm-level.

Employing RFID signal for fine-grained material sensing. (MobiCom '17, SenSys '19)

Material sensing can be applied for robot control, fake detection, food expiration detection, etc. Our system is sensitive enough to differentiate even Pepsi and Coke with just wireless signals. Without opening the bottle, our system can detect milk expiration accurately.

Employing commodity Wi-Fi device at home for respiration sensing without any sensor attached to the human body.(UbiComp '19)

We employ the pervasive Wi-Fi signals for respiration sensing. The reflected signal from the human chest is used to capture the subtle chest displacement (0.5 cm) during the inhalation and exhalation process. The sensing range has been increased to 8 meters with WiFi and the proposed system is highly robust.

Long-range LoRa sensing. (UbiComp '20, SenSys '19 & '20)

To enable long-range through-wall sensing, we employ the latest LoRa signals designed for IoT device connections. The achieved sensing range has been pushed to 50 meters with dedicated signal processing for subtle respiration displacement sensing. We combine LoRa hardware with a drone to further increase the sensing range. We believe the long-range and strong penetration capability of lora sensing can be particularly useful in disaster survivor search.


Grading Plan

Grading Scale

Any regrade requests for homework or exams must be submitted within one week after work is returned to you. Please discuss regrading issues only during office hours.

Guidelines for Paper Criticism

Each student is required to criticize 5 papers (one from each of the 5 application topics). The critique should:

  1. Summarize the paper

  2. Identify and list the technical challenges

  3. Describe the contribution of the paper

  4. Discuss the strength and weakness (pay more attention to weakness)

  5. Suggest potential improvements

Examination Schedule and Make-up Policies

There are two exams in this course:

Should you need to miss an exam, please let us know in advance. With written documentation for medical conditions, religious or funerary events, university-related events (athletic events, field trips, or performance), extenuating non-academic reasons (military obligation, family illness, jury duty, automobile collision), you will be able to take a make-up exam.

Attendance / Late Work Submission Policies

Please try to attend every class. The general rule is that there will be a penalty for late work submission. One late day will cause a 15% reduction in the grade and 0 grade will be awarded after 3 late days. The only exceptions to this are justified medical or personal situations that fall outside the ordinary. Since we don't want to be the arbiter of what is a good justification and what isn't, if the students have a medical or personal reason for turning homework in late, the students must get appropriate documentation from the Dean of Students Office.

Expectations and Requirements

Students are encouraged to actively participate in this class. The students in this class are expected to complete two homework assignments, take two midterm exams, submit five paper criticisms, and present one paper in class.

Course Material and Textbook (optional)

Prerequisites (optional)

Communication Policy

Moodle is going to be the primary platform for this class, where we release the lecture materials, homework assignments, solutions, presentation templates, and the grades. The students can ask questions through Piazza, email, or in office hours. Both the instructor and TA have one office hour every week to answer the students’ questions. The students need to submit regrade requests for homework or exam via Gradescope within one week after work is returned to you. Instructor and TA will respond within 10 hours.

Accommodation Statement

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to making reasonable, effective and appropriate accommodations to meet the needs of students with disabilities and help create a barrier-free campus. If you are in need of accommodation for a documented disability, register with Disability Services to have an accommodation letter sent to the instructors. It is your responsibility to initiate these services and to communicate with the teaching staff ahead of time to manage accommodations in a timely manner. For more information, consult the Disability Services website at

Academic Honesty Policy

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the world's largest professional computing society, has released a Code of Ethics, and with good reason. Given the dominant role of computer technology in our society, ethical lapses can have disastrous consequences. Ethical behavior begins here at UMass. The following discussion pertains to academic honesty from the perspective of this course.

All work submitted must be your own in presentation. How much outside help is allowed depends on the course component.

For more information about what constitutes academic dishonesty, please see the Dean of Students' website for the general UMass academic honesty policy. Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent. You can take a quick online quiz online quiz to check your "academic integrity quotient (AIQ)".

Title IX Statement

UMass is committed to fostering a safe learning environment by responding promptly and effectively to complaints of all kinds of sexual misconduct. If you have been the victim of sexual violence, gender discrimination, or sexual harassment, the university can provide you with a variety of support resources and accommodations. If you experience or witness sexual misconduct and wish to report the incident, please contact the UMass Amherst Equal Opportunity (EO) Office (413-545-3464 | to request an intake meeting with EO staff. Members of the CICS community can also contact Erika Lynn Dawson Head, director of diversity and inclusive community development ( | 860-770-4770).

Equity and Inclusion Statement

We are committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. This course is for everyone. This course is for you, regardless of your age, background, citizenship, disability, education, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, geographical origin, language, military experience, political views, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or work experience. We bring different skills to the course and we will all be learning from and with each other.

In both live and online settings, we all are expected to uphold and promote a welcoming environment for learning. Politeness, kindness, and tolerance are expected at all times. Respect that people have differences of opinion, and work and approach problems differently. Please keep unstructured critique to a minimum and make sure that any criticism is constructive. Try and be aware of your own biases and avoid micro-aggressions. Listen to others and let them participate; ask yourself whether you are dominating a conversation and not giving others a chance to contribute. Disruptive behavior is not welcome, and insulting, demeaning, or harassing anyone is unacceptable. We follow the university's guidelines for classroom civility. In particular, we don’t tolerate behavior that excludes people in socially marginalized groups. If you feel you have been or are being harassed or made uncomfortable by someone in this class, please contact a member of the course staff immediately, or if you feel uncomfortable doing so, contact the Dean of Students office.