GBSense: GHz Bandwidth Sensing from Smart Antennas to Sub-Nyquist Signal Processing

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science


Data rate for exchanging mobile information among people, machines and things has been exponentially increasing over the past decade. These data rates are empirically linked to radio spectrum availability. The exorbitant auction prices, e.g., £2.3 Billion for 4G spectrum in the UK, highlights the strength of the competitive market forces but also the scarcity of this precious resource. Driven by the scarcity of spectrum, the UK communications regulator (Ofcom) has made an innovative licence-exempt spectrum sharing on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) TV bands in January 2016, which is the first of its kind worldwide. These spectra of 320MHz bandwidth have enabled the transition from research on cognitive radio theory into practical applications. Furthermore, the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) spectrum on 28GHz, 39GHz, 60GHz with at least 1GHz bandwidth are being considered to be further unitised to cope with high data rate wireless applications and services demanded by users. The satellite and radar applications are co-existing in these mm-wave spectra, and thus any licence-exempt use of this spectra must first ascertain that the spectra to be used is not already in use by the so called "primary users". Therefore, sensing from several hundreds of MHz bandwidth in UHF to GHz bandwidth in mm-wave to gain a clear access to these spectra is critical, while resulting in formidable and complex challenge on the Nyquist-rate analog-to-digital sampling.

This fellowship project proposes a new approach to design GHz bandwidth sensing (GBSense) systems to overcome the bottleneck of Nyquist-rate sampling by developing sub-Nyquist sampling algorithms and repurposing the existing expertise of smart antennas and reconfigurable transmission lines. The GBSense offers new creative and implementable possibilities over a framework of real-time experimental platform without requiring Nyquist-rate sampling. The GBSense gives users access to a flexible hardware platform and application software that enables real-time over the air GHz bandwidth signal sensing, analysis and communication at both sub-6GHz and mm-wave frequency bands. It will also interface with a low-cost computing unit, e.g., Raspberry PI, where sub-Nyquist algorithms are hosted, for enabling better human-computer interaction and advance the current knowledge in sub-Nyquist sampling theory and bring a new set of challenges to both software and hardware engineers. Results will be disseminated to both software and hardware academic researchers, industry and the public through workshops, change-led competitions, open-source plans and outreach activities.

Planned Impact

This fellowship holds benefits for a wide variety of groups beyond academic researchers, both in the UK and internationally:

The industry-driven approach for my fellowship project will help and support the UK to remain an attractive place for businesses to invest in innovative research. In collaboration with national and international companies, e.g., EMS Ltd. (SME in the UK), National Instrument (the UK arm of a multinational company), and Sony Mobile (the Swedish arm of a multinational company), the outcome of this project will provide direct benefit to the industry who is conducting trials of 5G mobile communications which is in line with the Autumn Statement by the UK government (

With my involvement in the Ofcom TV White Space trials and license exempt regulations as part of my recently completed EPSRC First Grant project, this fellowship project will continue to report its outcome to Ofcom, and provide scientific and technical findings for the UK regulator. Ofcom organises regular special interest group meetings where I have been invited to present my research, and meet a number of companies. The datasets collected from the field trials in my fellowship project will directly provide further insights to the existing TV White Space geo-location database approach which is regulated by Ofcom.

In addition to my existing strong links with Ofcom, Nominet, Huawei, Sony, GigaSat, Fair Spectrum, InterDigital, Carson Wireless, EMS Ltd and World Sensing Net, I will also promote the outcome of this fellowship project with other groups and companies such as BBC, Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, BAE Systems, 6harmonics Adaptrum, Arqiva, which have expressed interests in my research.

--Schools and Third Sector:
Research conducted by the IET (Engineering a better world, has shown that there is a growing need to change perceptions of what modern engineering is and what it can offer young people as a career. One of the key findings about why Children like STEM subject is "Science involves experiments, finding how things work, is interesting and fun, creative, practical/hands-on, exciting, involves making things". The proposed experimental GBSense board is interfaced with Raspberry PI in which host the algorithms and control to the RF components. This is not only providing a user-friendly interface for researchers, but also provide an easy programming interface for novice users. I will bring the GBSense sample boards and give school talks to show them "complex science made it easy".

Science and technology teachers, who already use the CS4Fn (Computer Science for Fun) project at QMUL to promote student interest in computing/engineering careers. This fellowship will contribute new articles and activities on digital musical instruments to the project and assist with its dissemination into schools.

In addition to the fellowship's primary research activities, a targeted programme of workshops, competitions, hands-on tutorials, school talks, industry events and release of open-source software and hardware designs and datasets will ensure the fellowship reaches the beneficiaries named above. See Pathways to Impact for full details.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/R00711X/1 01/04/2018 01/01/2020 £1,061,140
EP/R00711X/2 Transfer EP/R00711X/1 02/01/2020 01/03/2023 £703,433
Description In addition to four IEEE journal publications, an initial prototype of the proposed GHz bandwidth sensing (GBSense) systems has been built by overcoming the bottleneck of Nyquist-rate sampling. The GBSense provides users access to a flexible hardware platform and application software that enables real-time over the air GHz bandwidth signal sensing, analysis, and communication at both sub-6GHz and mm-wave frequency bands. The sub-Nyquist algorithms were realised on the millimeter-wave transceiver system from National Instruments. This has laid a good foundation for the open challenge to be released later in 2020.
Exploitation Route I will make open-source sub-Nyquist signal processing codes available on the project website.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics

Description The fundamental research has provided guidance of the large antenna array design for a company in Cambridge. This design could help them to improve their exiting product line.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Blighter - Large Antenna Array 
Organisation Blighter Surveillance Systems
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Blighter was interested in a large antenna array for two receivers and one transmitter together. After several mutual meetings and visits, we have agreed to work on a consultancy contract on the industry-driven research challenge on the planar large antenna arrays. My research assistant and myself have proposed novel ideas on the large scale antenna array with novel feeding structure.
Collaborator Contribution Blighter has a specific technical challenges on the large antenna array and explain to my team clearly. We used our fundamental research to tackle the challenge and find potential solutions.
Impact We have just started the collaboration in October 2019, and resulted in a potential antenna array solutions. This collaboration is not multi-disciplinary.
Start Year 2019
Description 1st GBSense annual workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact As part of GBSense dissemination plan (1st annual workshop), I have delivered a tutorial on "Artificial Intelligence in Wireless Signal Processing: from Compressive Sensing to Deep Learning" at the IEEE 89th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC), April 2019. There are over 20 attendees. Constructive comments and discussions were conducted. Fur research opportunities were generated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description 2nd GBSense annual workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The 2nd GBSense workshop and hand-on tutorial was taken off at the IEEE GLOBECOM conference 2019. There were about 30 attendees including researchers from both industry and academia. The outcomes of the GBSense project were disseminated. Hands-on tutorial were given to the delegates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Tutorial on Sparse Signal Processing in Intelligent Communications: from Theory to Practice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A tutorial on "Sparse Signal Processing in Intelligent Communications: from Theory to Practice" at the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) in Shanghai, China in May 2019. The tutorial further explained the GBSesne project, technical activity and achievements to wider audience, e.g, about 50 PhDs and young researchers attended the tutorial. Potential collaborations were generated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019