Wednesday, October 22, 2014: 1:00 p.m.
Paul G. Allen Center, Microsoft Atrium

Joshua R. Smith, Associate Professor
UW Computer Science & Engineering
and Electrical Engineering

RF-Powered Sensing, Computing and Communication

Joshua R. Smith


Delivering power using Radio Frequency (RF) signals instead of wires will change the design of factories, implanted medical devices, buildings, consumer electronics, and many other engineered systems. From Eniac to today, the energy efficiency of computing has improved by a factor of one trillion; this energy scaling trend is one of the key enablers for wireless power today.

I will describe several systems my lab has developed in the course of exploring the space of wireless power techniques, including low power, "far field" devices that work at long range, and high power, "near field" devices that work at shorter ranges. I will present several examples of far field RF-powered devices that have typically been considered too power hungry to run using RF power. I will also present several examples of our recent high power near field work, from implanted devices to robot recharging. I will conclude by reflecting on changes to the design space enabled by wireless power, and discussing future directions for RF-powered sensor and actuator systems.

Speaker Bio

Joshua R. Smith is an Associate Professor in the departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he leads the Sensor Systems research group. In 2013 he was named an Allen Distinguished Investigator by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. He is the thrust leader for Communications and Interface in the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, and he is the theme leader for Low Power Sensing and Communication in the Intel Science and Technology Center for Pervasive Computing.

In recent years his research as focused on wirelessly powering and communicating with sensor systems in applications such as Internet of Things, implanted biomedical electronics, and robotics. Previously, he co-invented an electric field sensing system for suppressing unsafe airbag firing that is included in every Honda car. He received B.A. degrees in computer science and philosophy from Williams College, the M.A. degree in physics from Cambridge University, and the Ph.D. and S.M. degrees from the MIT Media Lab's Physics and Media group.