Imagine a future of limitless connections. Tiny devices implanted in your body relay health information to your smartphone. Young students operate high-definition microscopes at a university hundreds of miles away. Networks of underwater sensors provide real-time ocean data to scientists on shore.
A group of researchers at Northeastern isn’t just imagining this future—they’re designing it.
“We’re moving into a world in which everyday objects, and all the fabric of our daily lives, have intelligence,” said Tommaso Melodia, the William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor in Northeastern’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “This intelligence enables interactions between the cyber world and the physical world.”
Melodia is the founding director of Northeastern’s new Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, which will bring together a wide variety of expertise to build the next generation of wireless technologies for a faster, more connected world.
“There are a lot of groups working on wireless,” Melodia said. “What we’re envisioning and trying to do here is more of a broad systems approach, not just exclusively the communication component.”
Faster wireless networks are just one part of the equation. The new institute will have groups working on designing smaller, more effective sensors for interacting with the physical environment, developing artificial intelligence and machine learning programs to make sense of the data, and creating the protections to make sure that information stays secure.
“The institute will be a liaison between the expertise in these different areas,” Melodia said. “We’re hoping to create a visible point of connection between academic researchers and industry and government to create new partnerships.”
These collaborations will help translate laboratory research into marketable products that create new ways for us to connect with our friends, our environment, and ourselves.
Several of Melodia’s fellows in electrical and computer engineering will also be taking leadership roles in the new institute. Associate professor Kaushik Chowdhury will be connecting with industry professionals in the U.S. and abroad and associate professor Stefano Basagni will be designing new degree programs to prepare Northeastern students to build the wireless future.
“There’s already a lot of interesting work in the wireless arena coming out of this university,” Melodia said. “I would like for this institute to be a point of reference, nationwide and internationally, for the next generation of Internet of Things and smart wireless networked systems.”
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