UWHear: Through-wall Extraction and Separation of Audio Vibrations Using Wireless Signals [Conference Paper]

NESL Technical Report #: 2020-11-1


Abstract: An ability to detect, classify, and locate complex acoustic events can be a powerful tool to help smart systems build context-awareness, e.g., to make rich inferences about human behaviors in physical spaces. Conventional methods to measure acoustic signals employ microphones as sensors. As signals from multiple acoustic sources are blended during propagation to a sensor, such methods impose a dual challenge of separating the signal for an acoustic event from background noise and from other acoustic events of interest. Recent research has proposed using radio-frequency (RF) signals, e.g., WiFi and millimeter-wave (mmWave), to sense sound directly from source vibrations. Whereas these works allow separating an acoustic event from background noise, they cannot monitor multiple sound sources simultaneously. In this paper, we present UWHear, a system that simultaneously recovers and separates sounds from multiple sources. Unlike previous works using continuous-wave RF, UWHear employs Impulse Radio Ultra-Wideband (IR-UWB) technology, in order to construct an enhanced audio sensing system tackling the above challenges. Further, IR-UWB radios can penetrate light building materials, which enables UWHear to operate in some non-line-of-sight (NLOS) conditions. In addition to providing a theoretical guarantee for audio recovery using RF pulses, we also implement an audio sensing prototype exploiting a commercialoff-the-shelf IR-UWB radar. Our experiments show that UWHear can effectively separate the content of two speakers that are placed only 25cm apart. UWHear can also capture and separate multiple sounds and vibrations of household appliances while being immune to non-target noise coming from other directions.

External paper URL


Publication Forum: SenSys '20: Proceedings of the 18th Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems

Date: 2020-11-16

Publisher: ACM

Public Document?: Yes

NESL Document?: Yes

Document category: Conference Paper

Primary Research Area: Sensor and Actuator Networks