Pushing the physical limits of IoT devices with programmable metasurfaces

Lili Chen, Wenjun Hu, Kyle Jamieson, Xiaojiang Chen, Dingyi Fang, Jeremy Gummeson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Small, low-cost IoT devices are typically equipped with only a single, low-quality antenna, significantly limiting communication range and link quality. In particular, these antennas are typically linearly polarized and therefore susceptible to polarization mismatch, which can easily cause 10-15 dB of link loss when communicating with such devices. In this work, we highlight this under-appreciated issue and propose the augmentation of IoT deployment environments with programmable, RF-sensitive surfaces made of metamaterials. Our smart metasurface mitigates polarization mismatch by rotating the polarization of signals that pass through or reflect from the surface. We integrate our metasurface into an IoT network as LLAMA, a Low-power Lattice of Actuated Metasurface Antennas, designed for the pervasively used 2:4 GHz ISM band. We optimize LLAMA's metasurface design for both low transmission loss and low cost, to facilitate deployment at scale. We then build an end-to-end system that actuates the metasurface structure to optimize for link performance in real time. An empirical evaluation demonstrates gains in link power of up to 15 dB, and wireless capacity improvements of 100 and 180 Kbit/s/Hz in through-surface and surface-reflective scenarios, respectively, attributable to the polarization rotation properties of LLAMA's metasurface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2021
PublisherUSENIX Association
Pages425-438
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781939133212
StatePublished - 2021
Event18th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Apr 12 2021Apr 14 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 18th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2021

Conference

Conference18th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period4/12/214/14/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Control and Systems Engineering

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