University of Utah

Welcome to the Sensing and Processing Across Networks (SPAN) lab! The SPAN lab is part of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah.

The SPAN lab develops inventions for wireless networks which improve their security, reliability, self-awareness, and sensing capabilities. Research applies statistical signal processing, networking, and radio propagation techniques. The innovations have application in localization and tracking, secret key generation for wireless networks, network design and deployment, modeling and analysis. The lab, directed by Neal Patwari, is a combination of the efforts of several graduate and undergraduate researchers.

SPAN Announcements and News

NSF Grant Awarded to Investigate the "Science of Temporal Fading"

NSF Logo NSF Logo The NSF has funded our research project "Advanced Radio Frequency (RF)-based Environmental Monitoring Systems" to be performed collaboratively at Georgia Tech and the University of Utah. Prof. Neal Patwari and the SPAN lab will conduct the research at the University of Utah, and Prof. Gregory D. Durgin and the Propagation Lab will conduct the research at Georgia Tech.

The award is an investigation in the science of temporal fading as it is useful for new radio frequency (RF) environmental monitoring (REM) systems. Temporal fading is the change in the radio channel between a transmitter and receiver, for example, a fluctuating "number of bars" or signal strength between a laptop and access point, even when neither are moving. Past research in temporal fading treats it only as a problem that degrades wireless communication. Emerging research has shown that temporal fading can be exploited to locate, automatically recognize the activity or gesture, and monitor the health of people in the vicinity of a wireless network. These localization, recognition, and monitoring systems are called RF-based environment monitoring (REM) systems. Improvements in REM technologies could aid in the design of police and search-and-rescue systems that locate breathing people in dangerous or collapsed buildings. As another example, REM technologies deployed in a home could detect falls and detect signs of cognitive or physical decline as part of an aging-in-place sensor system. REM technologies could allow people to diagnose disordered sleeping via wireless devices (e.g., cell phones) left on their bedside. Finally, REM systems could revolutionize indoor and outdoor security systems, helping to protect areas and buildings which are difficult to monitor with existing technologies. To date, no fundamental research in temporal fading mechanisms has been performed to support REM applications. Research in this project considers temporal fading and seeks to establish how it is affected by the movements of people in the environment so that it can be exploited for environmental monitoring.

Best Paper Award at IPSN 2014

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Congratulations to Ossi Kaltiokallio, Hüseyin Yigitler, Riku Jäntti, and Neal Patwari! Their paper, "Catch a Breath: Non-invasive Respiration Rate Monitoring via Wireless Communication", was awarded the Best Paper Award at the 13th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN 2014), held April 15-17 in Berlin, Germany. Ossi Kaltiokallio, Hüseyin Yigitler, and Riku Jäntti are affiliated with Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. Ossi was a visiting researcher in the SPAN lab in 2012.

SPAN Research Featured at IEEE RFID 2014

DFL Demo at IEEE RFID 2014 Neal Patwari was the keynote speaker at the 2014 IEEE RFID Conference in Orlando, Florida, on April 10, 2014. He presented a talk, "Tracking Without Tags: Environmental Awareness Using RF Tomography", including a demonstration of the types of changes in signal strength experienced on a static link when a person walks through the link. The talk slides are now available.

Brad Mager presents at PIMRC 2013 on Fall Detection

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Brad Mager presents his paper, "Fall Detection Using RF Sensor Networks", at the 24th Annual IEEE Symposium on Personal, Indoor, and Mobile Communications Conference (PIMRC '13) in London, on Tuesday September 3. His paper is the first presented paper in the "Event Sensing and Localization" Session at 11am - 12:40pm. His paper is co-authored by Neal Patwari and Maurizio Bocca.

Merrick McCracken presents at SECON 2013

Award Merrick McCracken presents his paper, Joint ultra-wideband and signal strength-based through-building tracking for tactical operations, at the 2013 IEEE Intl. Conf. on Sensing, Communications, and Networking, on Wednesday, June 26, in New Orleans. His paper, co-authored by Maurizio Bocca and Neal Patwari, explores combining ultra-wideband impulse radar with radio tomography in order to achieve accurate localization without having sensors on all sides of an area to be covered. The idea is particularly motivated by emergency response applications.

Congratulations to Brad Mager!

Award Brad Mager had a great night at the ECE Technical Open House Award Banquet. He was awarded "Outstanding Computer Engineering Student", and also awarded one of six "Best Presentation" awards for his talk on his senior thesis, "Fall Detection Using RF Sensor Networks". His talk was also mentioned by the keynote speaker and distinguished alumnus award winner Dr. John Sutherland as an example of useful research into the "internet of things". Congrats to Brad on his awards!

An idea that will blow your mind

big ideas This article on Inc.com, "5 Ideas That Will Blow Your Mind" mentions Xandem's motion detection product as one of those five ideas. Having RF sensing mentioned along with "A Laser Printer for DNA" and "Software That Thinks Like a Human Brain"? Kinda blows our minds.

Ossi Kaltiokallio wins best paper award at SenseApp 2012!

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Ossi Kaltiokallio, Ph.D. student at Aalto University in Finland, and Maurizio Bocca and Neal Patwari, of the SPAN lab at the University of Utah, were awarded the "Best Paper Award" at the IEEE SenseApp workshop for their paper, "Follow @grandma: Long-Term Device-Free Localization for Residential Monitoring". Ossi Kaltiokallio presented the work today, 22 October 2012, in Clearwater, Florida. The work for the paper was conducted while Ossi was a visiting student in the SPAN lab. The best paper award was judged on quality of both the written paper and the oral presentation. IEEE SenseApp, an annual conference in its seventh year, is the short name of the IEEE International Workshop on Practical Issues in Building Sensor Network Applications. Only 20% of submissions were accepted as regular papers, and three were finalists for the best paper award.

Dr. Maurizio Bocca presenting at IEEE MASS 2012

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Dr. Maurizio Bocca presented a talk Tuesday, October 9, at IEEE MASS 2012 in Las Vegas, on the paper:

For location and time, see the MASS 2012 program. A video from Dr. Bocca's presentation, posted on Youtube, shows the dramatic improvements possible when using multi-channel RSS measurements for the purpose of radio tomographic imaging.

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