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UW research on battery-free camera networks featured at UbiComp 2015

WISPCamUW faculty and student contributions to UbiComp 2015 are so extensive, we can barely keep up. The latest news to come out of the conference that puts UW innovation in the spotlight: technology from the Sensor Systems Laboratory led by UW CSE and EE professor Josh Smith that enables the creation of smart networks of self-localizing, battery-free cameras.

A team that includes Alanson Sample (a UW EE Ph.D. alum who also completed a postdoc in CSE before joining Disney Research), current CSE Ph.D. student Jim Younquist, and EE Ph.D. students Saman Naderiparizi and Eve Zhao devised a system in which battery-free RFID sensor tags enhanced with on-board cameras, known as WISPCams after the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform on which they are built, are able to determine their location and orientation in relation to other cameras using LEDs.

From a Disney Research press release:

“Previous work at UW has produced battery-free RFID tags called WISPs with enhanced capabilities such as onboard computation, sensing, and image capture capabilities. WISPs operate at such low power that they can scavenge the energy needed for operation from radio waves. The new work shows that these WISPs with onboard cameras, or WISPCams, can use optical cues to figure out where they are located and the direction in which they are pointed. The ability of each node to determine its own location makes deployment of autonomous sensor nodes easier and the sensor data they produce more meaningful.

“‘Once the battery free cameras know their own positions it is possible to query the network of WISPCams for high level information such as all images looking west or sensor data from all nodes in a particular area,’ said Alanson P. Sample, a research scientist with Disney Research who previously was a post-doctoral researcher on the UW team that developed the WISP platform and the WISPCam.”

Having come up with a method to efficiently and precisely localize each camera optically – without the need for extra circuitry or components – the team envisions hundreds of WISPCams working together to measure their location with optical cues or localize and track objects of interest in 3D.

Read the full press release here, and the research paper here. Nice work, team!