Kassas’ Student Team Wins IEEE Signal Processing Society Video Contest

Zak Kassas advised the students who won the grand prize in the 5-minute video contest from the IEEE Signal Processing Society.

Aug. 13, 2020 - A Samueli School student team won the grand prize ($5,000) at the IEEE Signal Processing Society Five-Minute Video Clip (5-MICC) Contest for Beamforming Research. The undergraduate students  – Zainab Ashai, Xinyi (Taylor) Zhong, and Qitai (Neo) Meng – were mentored by graduate student Ali Abdallah and advised by Zak Kassas, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science.

Though the contest welcomed entries on any topic, this year’s theme of "Let There Be a Beam!" especially encouraged submissions on beamforming. Based on a spatially distributed array of sensors (antennas, microphones, hydrophones, etc.), a beam can be formed in space for enhanced signal reception or transmission. Research in this area can affect a number of practical applications, from radar, sonar and wireless communications to radio astronomy, seismology and medical processes.

The UCI team’s video entry, titled “An Indoor Localization System Exploiting LTE Signals: A Synthetic Aperture-based Beamforming Approach to Mitigate Multipath,” showed the most accurate indoor localization to date, by exploiting cellular long-term evolution (LTE) signals.

“I congratulate my students,” said Kassas. “Ali’s mentorship was exemplary. This recognition is attestation not only to the cutting-edge nature of our research, but also to the fact that this technology can impact our lives. This research will provide unprecedented opportunities for accurate indoor navigation with virtually no cost. It could save lives in emergency situations, save time for those navigating large indoor structures, and even ensure that you make it to your next appointment or job interview on time and stress free!”

Contest submissions, which included a conference paper, went through three selection rounds. In the first, 10 invited teams were selected. In the second round, a judging panel further culled the list to three finalists. Lastly, the panel ranked the finalists, taking a popular vote into account. The winners were announced during the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP) 2020, which took place virtually this year. 

– Lori Brandt