Sensors Workshop – November 21, 2014

Sensors for the Networked World: An Interdisciplinary Workshop.From Underground to Outer Space, and the Infrastructure in Between

The world around us is getting ‘smarter’: increased connectivity supports increased information from the ever-expanding network. Sensors provide that information. Temperature sensors feed information from drill sites deep in the earth’s crust to control rooms in Galveston, Texas. Atmospheric sensors ping information on the chemical composition of smog to scientists in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. And here in Toronto, pressure sensors embedded in pavement calibrate traffic lights around real-time volume.

This one-day workshop assembles thought-leaders along the complete technology pipeline, from the researchers investigating how to design, fabricate, and interconnect new sensors, to those with emerging applications for them. Speakers from Electrical & Computer Engineering, the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry span that spectrum.

Join us on November 21, 2014 for this one-day workshop. Faculty, graduate students and industry partners working on mechanisms or applications of sensing are welcome to attend the talks or submit posters for presentation.

Directions to the Bahen Centre for Information Technology—Room 1160, 40 St. George Street, University of Toronto

Click on each presenter’s name to download their presentation.

Sensors for the Networked World: Agenda

TimeSessionTitle - Click for abstract and bio
9:00 Welcome address - Farid Najm, chair of ECE
9:15Amr Helmy - ECEIntegrated, Chemically Specific Solutions for Liquids, Aerosols and Gases
9:45Li Qian - ECEFrequency-Shifted Interferometry for Fibre-Optic Sensing
10:15Coffee - Posters & demos
11:00Steve Mann - ECESensing Sensors and Visualizing Vision: Veillance in the Vironment of People, Places, and Things
11:30Shahrokh Valaee - ECELocalization of Wireless Terminals using Smart Sensing
12:00Tim Barfoot - University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace StudiesHow Sensors are Literally and Figuratively Driving Mobile Robots
12:30Lunch - Posters & demos
1:15Parham Aarabi - ECEMobile Sensing
1:45Greg Evans - Chemical EngineeringAirSenCe: A Sensor Array Approach to Measuring Air Pollution
2:15Murray Thomson - Mechanical & Industrial EngineeringOptical Sensors for Energy Efficiency in Steelmaking
2:45Sorin Voinigescu - ECEmm-wave Silicon Sensors and Active Tags
3:15Coffee - Posters & demos
3:45Panel Discussion:
Imran Ahmed - Kapik
Aamer Sachedina - IBM Toronto Lab
Rick Huijbregts - Vice President, Industry Transformation, Cisco Canada
Peter Kung - President, QPS Photronics Inc.
David Johns - ECE & Icewire Makerspace
4:45Closing - Tony Chan Carusone
Amr Helmy
Integrated, Chemically Specific Sensing Solutions for Liquids, Aerosols and Gases

Abstract: This talk will review and compare different opto-fluidic techniques for sensing samples in different phases. The approach has unparalleled chemically specificity as it utilizes Raman and FTIR spectroscopy. It pivots on novel means of enhancing the retrieved Raman and FTIR signals from any material in liquid, gas and aerosol phase. Techniques and applications to combine surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) with opto-fluidic-assisted Raman spectroscopy will be also discussed. Finally, challenges and opportunities to advance this approach to provide compact, portable instrumentation that use handheld control through mobile phones or tablets will be presented.

Bio: Amr S. Helmy is a Professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto.  Prior to his academic career, he held a position at Agilent Technologies photonic devices, R&D division, in the UK between 2000 and 2004.  He received his Ph.D. and M.Sc. from the University of Glasgow with a focus on photonic devices and fabrication technologies, in 1999 and 1995 respectively. He received his B.Sc. in Engineering Science from Cairo University in 1993. His research interests include photonic device physics and characterization techniques, with emphasis on nonlinear optics in III-V semiconductors; applied optical spectroscopy in III-V optoelectronic devices and materials; III-V fabrication and monolithic integration techniques.

Li Qian
Frequency-Shifted Interferometry for Fibre-Optic Sensing

Abstract: Frequency-shifted interferometry (FSI) is a versatile fibre-optic sensing technique that relies on a continuous-wave (CW) light source, an optical frequency shifter, and a slow detector. Several important applications of FSI are discussed.

Bio: Li Qian received her B.A.Sc. (honours), M.A.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, in 1993, 1996, and 2000, respectively. From 2000-2003, she was a senior scientist in Corning Incorporated, Corning, NY, before returning to her alma mater as an assistant professor. In 2008, she was promoted to associate professor. She brings both industrial and academic expertise to fiber-optic technologies. In 2001, she led the optical design of the world’s first commercial extended L-band erbium-doped fibre amplifiers in Corning Inc. After returning to academia, she continued her pursuit in novel fibre-optic devices and systems, and in commercializable technologies. Her research group is currently conducting experimental research in quantum key distribution, fiber sensing, and nonlinear fiber devices, including fiber-based entangled photon sources. Her group’s research on dispersion measurement was commercialized by Inometrix Inc., a start-up company headed by one of her graduate students. Prof. Qian holds a Canada Research Chair (2006-12) in Photonic Technologies and Applications.

Steve Mann
Sensing Sensors and Visualizing Vision: Veillance in the Vironment of People, Places, and Things


I will demonstrate and present new technologies and innovations for sensing sensors and visualizing their sensory capabilities, using Spaceglasses to see the sensory fields around us as time-reversed lightfields (i.e. not merely seeing sound waves or seeing radio waves, but also seeing a sensor’s sightfield itself). Sensors in the modern world operate at multiple scales, i.e. as the “smart world”, as urban design, smart cities, intelligent communities, smart streets, smart buildings, etc., and the scale of sensing continues down to the individual scale, where I regard clothing as a “building” built for a single occupant. I present the concept of a sensory scale-space, i.e. world, country, city, street, building, car, clothes, skin, body, internal organs, etc., along a unified sensing framework that bridges the gap between urban design/sensing and wearable/implantable sensing. In particular, I define 3 axes of scale, which, near the origin (smallest scale), represent “bits”, “atoms”, and “genes”, and further out, represent the fields of “Computer Science”, the “Physical Sciences”, and the “Social Sciences.” These scales comprise two primary regions: the “environment” (from the Greek word “viron” which means “circle”, i.e. that which surrounds us) down to what I call the “invironment” (our skin, body, and clothes, i.e. that which is NOT part of the environment).  Together, the Environment and Invironment form the “Vironment” which represents the physical scale (from “atoms” along the “Physical Sciences”). The goal of this work is to look at “sensing” in a broader and deeper intellectual landscape — not only revealing the otherwise hidden world of sensing but also helping us understand wearable computing, urban design, and the Vironment in new ways.

Bio: Steve Mann  has been recognized as “the father of wearable computing” (IEEE ISSCC 2000) and “the father of augmented reality (AR)” for his invention of “Digital Eye Glass” (EyeTap) and mediated reality (predecessor of AR). He also invented the Chirplet Transform, Comparametric Equations, and HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging (U.S. Pat. 5828793).  He received his PhD from MIT in 1997, and is a tenured professor at the University of Toronto. Mann is also the inventor of the hydraulophone, the world’s first musical instrument to make sound from vibrations in liquids, giving rise to a new theory of reverse kinematics and mechanics based on the time-integral of displacement, for which Mann coined the term “absement.” Mann has authored more than 200 publications, books and patents, and his work and inventions have been shown at the Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of American History, The Science Museum, MoMA, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and Triennale di Milano. He has been featured in AP News, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, WiReD, NBC, ABC, CNN, David Letterman, CBC-TV, CBS, Scientific American, Scientific American Frontiers, Discovery Channel, Byte, Reuters, New Scientist, Rolling Stone, and BBC.

Shahrokh Valaee
Localization of Wireless Terminals using Smart Sensing

Abstract: New smartphones are equipped with plurality of sensors. Accelerometer, gyro, barometer, and magnetometer are among the sensors that are commonly available in recent generation of smartphones. With smart use of such sensors we have developed precise positioning schemes that can find the location of user in covered areas where the GPS service is not available. Our technology uses RF signals received from WiFi access points or iBeacons, along with the readings from multiple sensors, to locate the user. We have also developed solutions for integration of multiple sensor readings into a single cohesive database. Our solutions are device-agnostic, which makes them excellent candidates for crowdsourcing. In this talk, we will present some of our approaches and will demo our solution.

Bio: Shahrokh Valaee received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Tehran, and the Ph.D. degree from McGill University, Canada, all in Electrical Engineering. From 1994 to 1995, he was a Research Associate at INRS Telecommunications, University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada. From 1996 to 2001, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran, and in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. Since September 2001, he has been with the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, where he is a Professor and the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. He is the Founder and the Director of the Wireless and Internet Research Laboratory (WIRLab) at the University of Toronto. Professor Valaee was the Co-Chair for Wireless Communications Symposium of IEEE GLOBECOM 2006, the Editor for IEEE Wireless Communications Magazine Special Issue on Toward Seamless Internetworking of Wireless LAN and Cellular Networks, and the Editor of a Special Issue of the Wiley Journal on Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing on Radio Linkand Transport Protocol Engineering for Future Generation Wireless Mobile Data Networks. He was the TPC Co-Chair and the Local Organization Chair of IEEE Personal Mobile Indoor Radio Communication (PIMRC) Symposium 2011. His current research interests are in wireless vehicular and sensor networks, location estimation and cellular networks.

Tim Barfoot
How Sensors are Literally and Figuratively Driving Mobile Robots

Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss how sensing technology is currently enabling a huge number of exciting new applications of mobile robots, from self-driving cars to automated mining to planetary exploration.  Without rich sensors including cameras (monocular, stereo, RGBD), laser rangefinders, and radar, these applications would not be possible.  Interestingly, few of these sensing technologies were originally developed with these applications in mind, and in many respects, mobile robotics has made major leaps in response to new sensors that have become available through other areas.  I will briefly describe this journey and speculate about what we can expect next from mobile robots.

Bio: Dr. Timothy Barfoot (Associate Professor, University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies — UTIAS) holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Autonomous Space Robotics and works in the area of guidance, navigation, and control of mobile robots for space and terrestrial applications.  He is interested in developing methods to allow mobile robots to operate over long periods of time in large-scale, unstructured, three-dimensional environments, using rich onboard sensing (e.g., cameras and laser rangefinders) and computation.   Dr. Barfoot took up his position at UTIAS in May 2007, after spending four years at MDA Space Missions, where he developed autonomous vehicle navigation technologies for both planetary rovers and terrestrial applications such as underground mining.  He is an Ontario Early Researcher Awardholder and a licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.   He sits on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Robotics Research and the Journal of Field Robotics.  He is currently serving as the General Chair of Field and Service Robotics (FSR) 2015, which will be held in Toronto.

Parham Aarabi
Mobile Sensing

Abstract: When the rapid advancement in mobile sensing technologies and the popularity of mobile  devices, new and interesting solutions can be devised for problems in health, human interface, and situational sensing/understanding.  This talk focuses on new types of sensor data processing algorithms, as well as new sensing mechanisms, that can be or have been employed on mobile devices.  Topics covered include microphone arrays and spatial audio on smartphones, camera arrays for depth perception and face tracking, vibrational sensing for health and medical diagnosis, and other application areas that employ information from mobile sensors.

Bio: Parham Aarabi is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering in 2001. Since then, he has been a faculty member at the University of Toronto, serving two terms as a Canada Research Chair. In 2005, he was selected by MIT’s Technology Review as one of the TR35 “Top Young Innovators”. In 2006, he received the Premier’s Catalyst Award for Innovation. He is also the recipient of the IEEE Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award. His research, which focuses on multi-microphone audio processing and audiovisual information processing, has resulted in over 100 peer reviewed papers, 7 issued and 12 pending patents, and 2 books.  He is also the founder of ModiFace Inc., a facial recognition and visualization company.

Greg Evans
AirSenCe: A Sensor Array Approach to Measuring Air Pollution

Abstract: Inexpensive sensors are now becoming available that can detect air pollutants at the low concentrations often found in the atmosphere. These sensors are enabling the creation of air quality monitors that are much cheaper and more portable than existing technologies. Development of systems with adequate performance, that are 100 times cheaper that existing instruments, will open the door to many new applications and potentially make awareness of air quality much more accessible and widespread. However, technical hurdles do remain; the sensor based technologies for measuring air pollution that are now being introduced to the market have significant limitations. Interferences, non-linearity in the calibration, drift and sensor degradation are common issues. In this presentation we will describe our work at UofT on sensor array-based measurement of air pollutants and how this approach is helping to overcome some of these issues. Some of the remaining challenges and opportunities will also be described.

Bio: Greg Evans is Professor with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto, and Director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research. Professor Evans received his Honours BASc, MSc and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Murray Thomson
Optical Sensors for Energy Efficiency in Steelmaking

Abstract: Steelmaking is a large consumer of energy and large source of CO2 emissions. There is a good potential to reduce this energy consumption as losses amount to 45% of energy input. As the process is transient, real-time process control is needed. Sensors are needed to feed data into process models to calculate the mass and energy flows. Over the last 20 years, my research group has developed, patented and commercialized optical process sensors to measure gas composition, temperature, flow rate and process endpoints. The sensors have been based on absorption and emissions spectroscopy in the ultraviolet, visible, near infrared, mid infrared and terahertz wavelengths. Lessons learned during the transition from laboratory through field trials to commercialization will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Murray Thomson is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto where he is the Director of the Combustion Research Laboratory. He is also cross-appointed with the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. He received a BEng from McGill University (1986) and PhD from University of California, Berkeley (1994). Professor Thomson is the Director of the NSERC CREATE Program in Clean Combustion Engines. He is on the organizing committee of the biennial International Sooting Flame Workshop, and the Board of Directors of the Canadian Section of the Combustion Institute. He is a member of the Research Management Committee and a Theme Leader of the BiofuelNet Canada NSERC National Centre of Excellence. Professor Thomson’s research is in the area of combustion with a focus on pollutant formation, biofuels, combustion modeling and optical sensors. He has supervised the thesis research of 61 graduate students and published 62 journal publications. He has developed 4 sensors that had patent applications and were commercialised with Canadian partner companies (Tenova, Unisearch and Resonance). He is a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) and the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME).

Sorin Voinigescu
mm-wave Silicon Sensors and Active Tags

Abstract: This talk will review a range of mm-wave sensors for automotive radar, active and passive imaging, as well as industrial distance and target identification sensors and mm-wave tags operating in the 60-180 GHz range which were designed, fabricated and tested at the University of Toronto in the last 8 years in collaboration with industry partners.

Bio: Sorin P. Voinigescu received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada, in 1994. Between 1994 and 2002 he was first with Nortel Networks and later with Quake Technologies (which he co-founded) in 2000) in Ottawa, Canada, where he was responsible for projects in high-frequency characterization and statistical scalable compact model development for Si, SiGe, and III-V devices. He later conducted research on wireless and optical fiber building blocks and transceivers in these technologies. In 2002 he joined the University of Toronto, where he is a full Professor. His research and teaching interests focus on nano-scale semiconductor devices and their application in integrated circuits at frequencies beyond 300 GHz. In 2008-2009 he spent a sabbatical year at Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Sunnyvale, CA, USA. Dr. Voinigescu is a member of the ITRS RF/AMS Committee and of the TPC of the IEEE BCTM. He received NORTEL’s President Award for Innovation in 1996 and is a co-recipient of the Best Paper Award at the 2001 IEEE CICC, the 2005 IEEE CSICS, and of the Beatrice Winner Award at the 2008 IEEE ISSCC. His group’s 60-GHz radio transceiver research was licensed to Toronto start-up Peraso Technologies Inc, which he co-founded. In 2013 he was recognized with the ITAC Lifetime Career Award for his contributions to the Canadian Semiconductor Industry.