COMPSCI 690W: Advanced Wireless Networking and Sensing in IoT


Jie Xiong

Teaching Assistant

Binbin Xie (


TuTh 10:00AM - 11:15AM (Feb 1, 2021 - May 13, 2021)


Nowadays, wireless technologies (such as 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 cars, etc. This course introduces the students with fundamentals in wireless networking and also the state-of-the-art wireless sensing applications in the Era of Internet-Of-Things. Wireless sensing is also an active research area which involves wireless communication, signal processing, human computer interaction, machine learning and also hardware prototyping. The intrinsic nature of sensor-free and contact-free makes wireless sensing particularly appealing in current covid-19 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, one midterm exam, paper presentation, paper criticism and one team-based project.

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

  1. 20%: Two homework assignments

  2. 25%: Online midterm 1

  3. 20%: Paper criticism (5 papers)

  4. 25%: Online midterm 2

  5. 10%: Paper presentation (one paper)

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