University of Cambridge > > Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence Seminar Series > Decoding Hidden Worlds: Signals in our Oceans, Bodies, and Beyond

Decoding Hidden Worlds: Signals in our Oceans, Bodies, and Beyond

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Abstract: As humans, we crave to explore hidden worlds. Yet, today’s technologies remain far from allowing us to perceive most of the world we live in. Despite centuries of seaborne voyaging, more than 80% of our oceans have never been observed or explored. And, at any moment in time, each of us has very little insight into the biological world inside our own bodies. The challenge in perceiving hidden worlds extends beyond ourselves: even the robots we build are limited in their visual perception of the world.

In this talk, I will describe new technologies developed by my group that allow us to decode areas of the physical world that have so far been too remote or difficult to perceive. First, I will describe a new generation of underwater sensors that can sense, compute, and communicate without requiring any batteries; these devices enable real-time and ultra-long-term monitoring of ocean vitals (temperature, pressure, coral reefs) with important applications to scientific exploration and underwater climate monitoring. Next, I will talk about new wireless technologies for sensing the human body, both from inside the body as well as from a distance (contactless); these technologies have already been used to monitor disease progression (including in COVID19 patients), and pave way for novel diagnostic and treatment methods. Finally, I will touch on some of our work in extending robotic perception beyond line-of-sight, and how it can enable robots to perform complex manipulation tasks that were not possible before.

The talk will cover how we have designed, built, and tested these technologies in the real-world, and highlight open problems and opportunities in unleashing their full potential. The talk will also outline the ongoing and potential impact of this line of work in addressing global challenges in climate, health, and automation.

Bio: Fadel Adib is the Doherty Chair of Ocean Utilization at MIT and Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and the Media Lab. He is also the founding director of the Signal Kinetics group which develops new sensor technologies for health, computing, and climate.

Adib earned his Bachelor’s from AUB (2011), and his Master’s (2013) and Ph.D. (2016) from MIT , winning the best Masters and best Ph.D. thesis awards in Computer Science at MIT . Adib’s Ph.D. thesis on seeing through walls won the ACM SIGMOBILE Dissertation Award and was named as one of the 50 ways MIT has transformed Computer Science over the past 50 years. This work has been commercialized by a startup, Emerald Innovations, whose devices have already been deployed in hundreds of homes and are being used by doctors at major US hospitals to monitor patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and COVID19 .

Adib has been named to Technology Review’s list of 35 Innovators Under 35 and to Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30. He has also received prestigious early-career faculty honors including the NSF CAREER Award (2019), the ONR Young Investigator Award (2019), the ONR Early Career Grant (2020), and the Google Faculty Research Award (2017). His research has won Best Paper/Demo Awards at SIGCOMM , MobiCom, and CHI . Among the coolest popular features of his work is an episode in The Big Bang Theory about one of his projects and invitations to demo his research to President Obama at the White House and in the UK House of Lords.

This talk is part of the Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence Seminar Series series.

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