ESR 8

Sarmad Mir

Project: Bi-directional Communication for Battery-free Devices (for Integration between Home Automation and VLC)

Host: IMDEA Networks (Spain)

PhD: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)

Supervisor: Dr. D. Giustiniano

I graduated in 2010 as Electronics Engineer with distinction from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan. I obtained a Masters degree in Control Systems from Pakistan in 2012. I did 5 years job as Embedded Systems Engineer in Islamabad based company. In 2017-19, I obtained a Masters degree in Smarts Systems Integration with distinction under Erasmus+ Scholarship which has a joint degree from Heriot-Watt University UK, USN Norway and BME Hungary. I worked in Ovesco GmbH Germany in 2019. Currently, I am working as a PhD student in IMDEA Networks Institute, Spain since January 2020. in Pervasive Wireless Systems Group led by Dr. Domenico Giustiniano. I have research interest in Smart systems,  wireless communication and battery-free Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

My passion is to become an expert in the field of Visible Light Communication (VLC) and Radio Frequency (RF) Backscatter and share my experience and knowledge with other researchers to create products that facilitates the life of common people.

Besides academic, I spend my leisure time to enhance my soft skills and I enjoy travelling, playing basketball, table tennis and cricket. After being in Madrid, I am thinking to develop more interest in football 😊

The aim of the project is to create a battery-free tag using Visible Light Communication (VLC) as downlink and Radio Frequency (RF) backscatter as uplink and energized by solar/RF harvested energy in a home automation scenario.

In this project I am working to improve the communication infrastructure for IoT devices. This project targets the integration of visible light communication (VLC) with light controlling home automation components. In a smart home, there are number of sensors required to monitor the environmental conditions, i.e. temperature, humidity, oxygen level, CO detector, etc. As the number of sensors increases, it is difficult to power all the sensors with wires as it increases the cost and aesthetically not viable. The other option is the use of batteries to powerup the IoT devices but it requires replacement after a certain period which is costly and also harmful for the environment. So, the best option is to design battery-free sensor tags that are capable of harvesting energy and communicating wirelessly.

In tag, the downlink is based on VLC, which is the best option as we get the illumination and data transfer from the same light source using the already installed lighting infrastructure. In battery-free devices or tags, there is a strict constraint of power budget as it is usually supplied by energy harvesters. For this reason, the VLC is used in a downlink with the advantages of being detected by the VLC receiver with direct detection (DD) method. It is undesired to use VLC in uplink as it requires a light source on a tag to transmit the modulated uplink signal. This light source consumes high power during transmission and causes nonuniform illumination which is undesired.

On the other hand, the uplink employs RF technology. We can use active RF transmission of data but it requires high power budget which is not available on a tag. The most viable option is to use RF backscatter for uplink which reflects the RF carrier wave with an antenna whose impedance depends on the input data and it does not require any active transmission. Ambient backscatter communication has great potential for ultra-low energy communication devices, especially IoT where a low data rate is required.

The intersection of VLC and RF backscatter is a current hot topic, where I expect to obtain relevant results that may be used by the research community.

Mir, Muhammad Sarmad; Genovés, Borja; Galisteo, Ander; Giustiniano, Domenico (September 2020)
“Non-linearity of LEDs for VLC IoT applications”
“Light Up the IoT” – Workshop Co-located with ACM MobiCom 2020, 25 September 2020.

Mir, Muhammad Sarmad; Genovés Guzmån, Borja; Solanki, Deepak; Marent, Guenter; Giustiniano, Domenico (February 2020)
"Poster: Integration between Home Automation and Visible Light Communications"
International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks (EWSN 2020), Lyon, France, 17-19 February 2020.