CSE Seminar

Reinventing the Physical Layer to Enable Next-Generation Sensing and Computing Systems

Alanson SampleExecutive Lab DirectorDisney Research Los Angeles

Harnessing electromagnetic waves has changed how we live, work, and play. While industry has enabled faster, cheaper, and lower power wireless computing devices, there is the opportunity to use this underlying technology to re-examine the physical layer and explore novel sensing mechanisms, new wireless communication techniques, and innovative ways of harvesting energy and delivering power wirelessly. My research focuses on creating interactive sensing systems by applying my unique background in electromagnetics, circuit design, embedded systems, and signal processing to the fields of Human Computer Interaction and Ubiquitous Computing.

This talk presents an overview of ongoing projects and future research directions, which aims to create new interactive sensing experiences through innovations in hardware and software. This includes: the use of signal processing techniques that turn battery-free, long-range RFID tags into minimalistic sensors capable of human object interaction detection; a smartwatch prototype that measures the EMI noise emitted by common electronic devices to enable real-time, touch-based device classification and identification; ultra-wideband ambient backscatter techniques that use the radio waves present throughout our environment as an untapped medium for communication; as well as a new form of wireless power transfer based on quasi-static cavity resonance, which enables room-wide wireless power delivery to mobile devices contained nearly anywhere within.
Alanson Sample is the Executive Lab Director of Disney Research in Los Angeles and leads the Wireless Systems group. His research focuses on enabling new guest experiences and sensing systems by applying novel approaches to electromagnetics, RF and analog circuits, and embedded systems.

Prior to joining Disney, he worked at Intel Labs in Hillsboro, OR 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.

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