Hacking the RF Phy: Wireless power transfer, RF sensing, battery-free communication and beyond

ECE Seminar: Hacking the RF Phy: Wireless power transfer, RF sensing, battery-free communication and beyond

Starts at: December 3, 2015 4:30 PM

Ends at: 6:00 PM

Location: Scaife 125

Speaker: Dr. Alanson Sample

Affiliation: Disney Research

Refreshments provided: Yes

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Harnessing the power of electromagnetic waves has changed how we live, play, and work. While the semiconductor industry has focused on enabling faster, cheaper, and lower power wireless devices, there is the opportunity to use these underlying technologies to re-examine the RF physical layer and explore novel means of using electromagnetic waves for sensing, communication, and energy transfer. Typically, this means taking key insights from circuit theory and physics to create new devices and capabilities, and then building end-to-end systems that allow researchers to explore how this new technology can impact our lives.
This talk presents an overview of several ongoing research projects at Disney Research. First, IDSense uses commercially available, long-range RFID tags to enable battery-free human object interaction detection. Usage examples include activity inferencing in the home or office, interactive toys, and the identification of consumer shopping habits. Next, EM-Sense employs a software-defined radio to sense the EMI signals generated by un-modified electromechanical devices. When built in to a smart watch the EMI signatures traveling through the body can be detected and classified in real-time, enabling robust on-touch object detection across a wide range of consumer electronics, household appliances, and electrical tools. Finally, work on resonant cavity mode wireless power transfer is presented. This new form of wireless power delivery allows tens of devices to be simultaneously recharged, at high efficiency, when placed in nearly any location or orientation with in a large metallic chamber or storage cabinet.

Alanson Sample is a Research Scientist at Disney Research in Pittsburgh. His research focuses on enabling new guest experiences and sensing and computing devices by applying novel approaches to electromagnetics, RF and analog circuits, and embedded systems.
Prior to joining Disney, he worked at Intel Labs in Hillsboro on energy harvesting for wearable and Internet of Things applications. He also held a postdoctoral research position in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. There he developed methods of wirelessly powering implanted heart pumps, known as LVADs.
Alanson received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2011 from the University of Washington. Throughout his graduate studies, he worked full time at Intel Research Seattle where he published several articles and patents on the use of magnetically coupled resonance for wireless power delivery, as well as RFID, and ambient RF energy harvesting.
Alanson was one of the key contributors to the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform, which was open-sourced in 2009 as part of Intel's WISP Challenge. His research interests lie broadly in the areas of wireless communication, RF and analog circuit design, embedded systems, and novel sensors.