Image for the course

Advanced Topics in Networking: Special Topics in Internet of Things

Course code: CS6204

Instructor: Professor Ambuj Varshney,

Office hours: Friday, 4-6pm, No appointment necessary (drop in)


Internet of things (IoT) is an integral part of our lives with millions of IoT devices deployed worldwide, and projected to reach a trillion within our lifetime.

This course covers the basics of IoT systems and some of the emerging applications. A major focus of this course is on wireless networking, one of the most critical functions of an IoT device. This course covers various topics such as, device architecture, basics of wireless communication and standards, emerging wireless standards, sensing and actuation, and power management. Other topics related to IoT are also discussed in invited lectures (by leading academic researchers and leaders from industry) as well as student driven seminars.


We expect this course will be most beneficial to students with a background in embedded systems, mobile computing, networking, sensing, and wireless communication. Regardless of your background, as long as you are willing to learn, you can participate and benefit from taking the course.


This course is based on research papers related to IoT that are seminal to the area, or have appeared recently at leading venues for research related to IoT and mobile systems such as ACM MobiCom, MobiSys, Sigcomm, NSDI, SenSys, IMWUT. Therefore, there is no recommended textbook for the course.


Course is graded based on class participation, presentations, and projects. Although there is no expectation for publishable results at the end of the course, there may be bonus points awarded for ambitious and well executed projects.

Course component Contribution to grades
Attendance (guest lectures) 20%
Class presentation 20%
Research paper summary 20%
Project (Problem statement) 20%
Project (Execution)(Final report/presentation) 20%


Mandatory readings are graded, and their summaries must be submitted online via HotCRP.

Reading number Paper title
1 Mark Weiser, The computer for 21st Century
2 J. M. Kahn, R. H. Katz (ACM Fellow), K. S. J. Pister, Next century challenges: mobile networking for “Smart Dust”
3 Bryce Kellogg, Vamsi Talla, Shyamnath Gollakota, and Joshua R. Smith, Passive Wi-Fi: Bringing Low Power to Wi-Fi Transmissions
4 Dhananjay Jagtap , Alex Yen , Huanlei Wu , Aaron Schulman , Pat Pannuto, Federated Infrastructure: Usage, Patterns, and Insights from “The People’s Network”
5 Hyung-Sin Kim , Michael P. Andersen , Kaifei Chen , Sam Kumar , William J. Zhao , Kevin Ma , David E. Culler, System Architecture Directions for Post-SoC/32-bit Networked Sensors


These readings are not graded:

Reading number Paper title
1 Bluetooth fundamentals, Silicon labs
2 All BLE guides are wrong, UC Berkeley
3 Helium networks, whitepaper


Basics of LoRa chirp modulation:

Keynote from ACM MobiSys 2022 - Professor. Fadel Adib (MIT):

Creating the Internet of Biological and Bio-Inspired Things by Professor. Shyam Gollakota (University of Washington, Seattle):


As part of the course, we have three invited lectures from academia and industry. Attendance to these lectures is part of the overall evaluation of the course.

Name Position and Affiliation
Akshay Gadre Assistant Professor @ University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Nirupam Roy Assistant Professor @ University of Maryland, College Park, USA
Mobashir Mohammad Chief Technology Officer @ Ackcio, (NUS/SoC) Alumni

Invited Speaker 1: Dr. Mobashir Mohammad (NUS/SoC Alumni)


With the infrastructure projects becoming increasingly complex there is an imminent need for stringent and real-time monitoring of various parameters. From geotechnical instruments to machines like TBM. From environment data to tracking people. There are highly sophisticated sensors available at our disposal to track the minutest of activities on any project. Analyzing those not only makes infrastructures safe but also identifies bottlenecks for increased efficiency. Despite using wireless communication every single day of our lives, it remains the biggest challenge to use on mega-scale infrastructure projects and yet is the key technology that can help it. In this talk, we’d discuss how infrastructure monitoring has evolved with the introduction of the latest wireless standards and what the future holds.


Mobashir Mohammad is the Co-founder and CTO of Ackcio, a Singapore based start-up that provides a wireless solution for industrial monitoring applications. Mobashir has a Ph.D. in Wireless Networking and IoT. He has close to a decade of experience in designing and implementing scalable wireless communication protocols that solve the interference problem that plagues IoT connectivity.

Invited Speaker 2: Prof. Dr. Akshay Gadre

Title: Rethinking Low-Power Wide-Area Networks on Earth and Space

Internet-of-Things (IoT) has widely permeated our daily lives and is used for various applications ranging from agriculture to industrial IoT. Yet, IoT deployments are inherently asymmetric where more resourceful base stations and cloud infrastructure lie on the other side of a IoT clients’ bandwidth starved link. This precludes the possibility of data-driven applications on IoT deployments for large scale sensing such as smart agriculture, automated traffic signals and micro-climate monitoring. While some smart-home sensors can communicate large amounts of data to enable low-latency complex inference applications, the big data revolution has eluded low-power IoT sensors from realizing their true potential.

In this talk, I will show how we can overcome these fundamental limitations of IoT wireless technologies and build systems that enable such data driven applications at scale. First, I will show how we can reduce the latency for large-scale inference queries (from several hours to a few milliseconds) by designing a new approach for clients to work together for overcoming the bandwidth-bottlenecks of individual wireless links. Next, I will talk about how we can push the wireless and compute operations from these low-power IoT clients to the much more powerful base stations to improve client throughput and battery life. Finally, I will showcase how we can leverage a similar approach for improving the capabilities of small satellites (called CubeSats) operating in low-earth orbit. I will conclude my talk with a discussion about how IoT will transform new domains in the coming years and how my research will attempt to address the challenges in these areas.

Akshay is an Assistant Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of University of Washington. He recently received his Ph.D in ECE at Carnegie Mellon University where his research operated at the intersection of wireless, mobile and cyber-physical systems with special focus on empowering the low-power Internet-of-Things devices deployed on earth and space. He has published at premier cyber-physical systems and mobile systems venues like IPSN, NSDI, MobiCom, and ICC. His work has received the Best Paper Awards at IPSN 2018 and IPSN 2020, and he was awarded the Best Presentation Award at the IPSN PhD Forum 2020. He was also awarded the ACM SIGBED-SIGSOFT Frank Anger Memorial Award 2021 for his cross-disciplinary research across embedded systems and software engineering. His work on IoT security and privacy was recognized with the CyLab Presidential Fellowship 2020-21.

Invited Speaker 3: Prof. Dr. Nirupam Roy

Title: Ultra-low-power Acoustic Perception in IoT

Agile and miniature robots are emerging with new capabilities and sensing skills. Insect-sized robots are becoming new first responders to search for survivors in disaster debris. Tiny drones, each a couple of inches in size, are helping mapping a hazardous location before deploying human rescuers. These small robotic systems, when paired with autonomous navigation, can create new possibilities in a wide range of crucial applications, including precision farming, disaster management, and surveillance and monitoring. However, it will require overcoming a set of challenges to realize the vision and perception of the environment probably the most crucial of them. It is, however, challenging for small robotic systems due to the unique constraints of limited energy source, low weight carrying capacity and size, small computational power, and the requirement of low-cost manufacturing (SWaP-C constraints). This talk presents recent works in ultra-low-power acoustic sensing and perception as an opportunity to bridge this gap.

Nirupam Roy is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2018. His research interests are in wireless networking, mobile computing, and embedded systems with applications to IoT, cyber-physical systems, and security. His doctoral thesis was selected for the 2019 CSL Ph.D. thesis award at UIUC. Prof. Roy is the recipient of the Valkenburg graduate research award, the Lalit Bahl fellowship, and the outstanding thesis awards from both his Bachelor’s and Master’s institutes. His research received the MobiSys best paper award and was selected for the ACM SIGMOBILE research highlights. Many of his research projects have been featured in news media such as the MIT Technology Review, The Telegraph, and The Huffington Post.


Please submit project description: It should describe problem, background/existing approach, timeline, equipment(s) required, and brief outline of the planned experiments.

Project completion deadline: 3rd December 2022

Project submission: Short video (upto 5 minutes long) describing the problem and results achieved. Please also prepare a poster describing these results. No other document (such as final report) needs to be submitted.

Example of posters: Poster 1, Poster 2, Poster 3


Format: Students present for 15-20 mins. At the end of presentation upto 10 mins are left for discussions.

Group 1: Operating systems and memory

Paper title Venue Student
Multiprogramming a 64 kB Computer Safely and Efficiently ACM SOSP 2017 Audinet Quentin
Application Memory Isolation on Ultra-Low-Power MCUs USENIX ATC 2018 SHEN Jiamin
Energy and Processing Demand Analysis of TLS Protocol in Internet of Things Applications IEEE SIPS 2018 Sung Yong Kim

Group 2: Human Computer Interaction

Paper title Venue Student
WiStress: Contactless Stress Monitoring using Wireless Signals ACM IMWUT 2021 Bai Yunpeng
A Conversational Approach for Modifying Service Mashups in IoT Environments ACM CHI 2022 Zhou Chen

Group 3: Cameras

Paper title Venue Student
Large-scale vehicle trajectory reconstruction with camera sensing network ACM MOBICOM 2021 Zhao Yiran
Starfish: Resilient Image Compression for AIoT Cameras ACM SenSys 2020 Sun Bangjie
Pinto: Enabling Video Privacy for Commodity IoT Cameras ACM CCS 2018 Jiang Nan

Group 4: Machine learning and Internet of Things

Paper title Venue Student
NELoRa: Towards Ultra-low SNR LoRa Communication with Neural-enhanced Demodulation ACM SENSYS 2021 Li Yunfan
Machine Learning Sensors Arxiv Kanav Sabharwal


Lecture number Topic
1 Introduction: Overview of the Course, topic preview - Internet of Things, Energy challenge on IoT devices, Preview of backscatter communication
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
2 Preview of course readings, Ubiquitious computing, Mark weiser vision, and Heilmeier Catechism
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
3 Wireless embedded systems device architecture, Basics of wireless communication, common standards employed on IoT devices - ZigBee, BLE, Case study - BLE backscatter, WiFi Preview
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
4 TV Whitespaces, WiFi basics, Long-range and Low-Power, LoRa standard, Helium Network
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
5 Backscatter basics, NFC, RFIDs, Basics of Sensors and Actuators, Case study - Light sensing
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
6 Processing and Platforms
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
7 Power Management
  Presentation slide: (PPT)
8 Invited Speaker: Dr. Mobashir Mohammad
  Date: 12th October 2022, Venue: In-Person, LT19, 2:00 PM SGT
9 Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Akshay Gadre
  Date: 19th October 2022, Venue: Online, Zoom, 2:00 PM SGT
10 Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Nirupam Roy
  Date: 26th October 2022, Venue: Online, Zoom, 10:30 AM SGT
11 Student presentation - Group 1 (Operating systems and memory, Security)
  Date: 2nd November 2022, Venue: In-person
12 Student presentation - Group 2 and 4
  Date: 9th November 2022, Venue: In-person
13 Student presentation - Group 3 (Cameras)
  Date: 11th November 2022, Venue: Zoom, Time: 2 PM SGT


Parts of the course were adapted from courses previously offered by: Prof. Pat Pannuto (University of California, San Diego), Branden Ghena (Northwestern University) and Prof. Prabal Dutta (University of California, Berkeley). Some of the images are generated using Open AI Dall-e.