Sensor Systems Laboratory

Inventing new technology for sensing, robotics, wireless power, and medical devices

Joshua R. Smith, Ph. D.
Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor
Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Washington

WISP (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform)

UW WISP Researchers (Current)

Joshua R. Smith, Principal Investigator

Shyam Gollakota Associate Prof, UW CSE

Brody Mahoney, UW ECE Grad Student

Jared Nakahara, UW ECE Grad Student

Boling Yang, Grad Student, UW CSE

Zerina Kapetanovic, Grad Student, UW ECE

Ali Saffari, UW ECE Grad Student


WISP, the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform, is a family of sensors that are powered and read by UHF RFID readers. WISPs do not require batteries since they harvest their power from the RF signal generated by the reader. The WISP is an open source, open architecture EPC Class 1 Generation 2 RFID tag that includes a fully programmable 16 bit microcontroller, as well as arbitrary sensors. Unlike the WISP, conventional RFID tags are black boxes that cannot execute arbitrary computer programs, and do not support sensors. We have given WISPs to collaborators around the world. Many of the applications have been sensing related, but we were also surprised to find many applications in the areas of cryptography and security, enabled by WISPs programmability.

More Information

WISP Wiki is the main WISP community website

WISP 5 Wiki has information about the most recent version of the WISP

Getting Your Own WISP, Click the link to ask about purchasing pre-built WISP 5 hardware.

WISP Summit, the first workshop to bring together WISP users in Berkeley, CA in 2009.

UW WISP Researchers (Former)

Alanson Sample, Assoc Prof, U Michigan

Michael Buettner, Google

Aaron Parks,_VP Jeeva

Vamsi Talla, CTO Jeeva

Saman Naderiparizi, Apple (via XNOR.AI)

Laura Arjona, University of Deusto

Mehrdad Hessar, OctoML

Justin Reina

David Wetherall Google


Selected WISP Publications

Towards Battery-free HD Video Streaming, S. Naderipariza, N. Hessar, V. Talla, S. Gollakota, J.R. Smith, 15th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 2018).

RF-Powered Backscattere-Based Cameras, S. Naderipariza, Z. Kapetanovic, J.R. Smith, 11th European Conference on Antennas and Propagation (EuCAP). 19-24 March 2017, Paris.

Battery-free connected machine vision with wispcam, S. Naderipariza, Z. Kapetanovic, J.R. Smith, GetMobile Magazine: Mobile Computing and Communications 20, no. 1 (2016): 10-13.

WISPCam: A Battery-Free RFID Camera, S. Naderipariza, Z. Kapetanovic, B. Ransford, J.R. Smith, IEEE International pp. 1-8. IEEE, 2016 *** Nominated for Best Paper Award

NSF Support

WISP project has been supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation, including CNS-1823148 (“CRI:CI:SUSTAIN: Next-Generation, Sustainable Infrastructure for the RF-Powered Computing Community”),CNS-1305072 (“CI-ADDO-EN: Infrastructure for the RF-Powered Computing Community.”) Additional support from NSF Grant EEC-1028725, Intel Corporation, Disney Corporation, and the Google Faculty Research Awards program.

Intellectual Merit

The WISP infrastructure enables research in a number of areas. Over the years it has enabled a number of firsts, such as the first UHF-powered accelerometer input device and the first demonstration of public key cryptography on a wirelessly power device. Recent years have seen developments such as Ambient Backscatter Communication, and backscatter-based WISP cameras, which have been received with interest in the research community. Making these tools widely available will enable research on topics such as (ambient) backscatter networking, applications of battery-free cameras, and algorithms for interactive compression and computer vision in battery-free camera systems. This research would likely remain inaccessible for a long time to many CISE researchers, since there are no widely accessible platforms that support research on these topics. The sustained WISP infrastructure will also enable novel application research, in areas such as improved human activity detection systems, battery-free input devices, and also research on body-implanted electronics, and long term structural health monitoring.

Broader Impacts

Jeeva Inc is a company spun out of University of Washington that is commercializing research related to the WISP project. The magic of wireless power and backscatter communication can help attract students to science and engineering. We actively recruit students to participate in the research and we aim to increase the participation of students from under-represented groups.

Self-Localizing Battery-Free Camera, S. Naderipariza, Y. Zhao, J. Youngquist, A. Sample, J.R. Smith, ACM Ubicomp Sept. 2015.

Photovoltaic Enhanced UHF RFID Tag Antennas for Dual Purpose Energy Harvesting, A. Sample, A. Parks, J.R. Smith, IEEE RFID 2011.

RFID: From Supply Chains to Sensor Nets, S. Roy, V. Jandhyala, J.R. Smith, D.J. Wetherall, B.P. Otis, R. Chakraborty, M. Buettner, D.J. Yeager, Y.-C. Ko, A.P. Sample, Proceedings of the IEEE, vol.98, no.9, pp.1583-1592, Sept. 2010.

NeuralWISP: A Wirelessly-Powered Neural Interface with 1-m Range, D. Yeager, J. Holleman, R. Prasad, J.R. Smith, B. Otis. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, Dec. 2009.

A Capacitive Touch Interface for Passive RFID Tags, Alanson P. Sample, Daniel J. Yeager, Joshua R. Smith. Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on RFID.

*** Winner of Best Paper Award!

RFID Sensor Networks with the Intel WISP. Michael Buettner, Ben Greenstein, Richa Prasad, Alanson Sample, Joshua R. Smith, Daniel Yeager, David Wetherall. 6th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (Sensys 2008).

*** Winner of Best Demo award!

Design of an RFID-Based Battery-Free Programmable Sensing Platform Alanson P. Sample, Daniel J. Yeager, Pauline S. Powledge, Alexander V. Mamishev, Joshua R. Smith. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, Vol. 57, No. 11, Nov. 2008, pp. 2608-2615.

A wirelessly powered platform for sensing and computation, Joshua R. Smith, Alanson Sample, Pauline Powledge, Alexander Mamishev, Sumit Roy. Proceedings of Ubicomp 2006: 8th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing. Orange Country, CA, USA, September 17-21 2006, pp. 495-506.