Pat Pannuto

Wireless and Communication in the Internet of Things

M3 sensor on a finger
Luxapose image processing pipeline
Signpost platform deployed outside
TotTag ranging platform
Opo interaction tracker clipped to a tie
Powerblade power meter on a plug

CSE291 (13) - Winter 2022

Meets M/W/F from 14:00 to 14:50 in 2154 CSE.

Pat Pannuto is the instructor, and their office is CSE 3202 (right in the corner).
Office hours available by appointment (please email / chat after class).

Click here for the UCSD Embedded Lunch Seminar (Thr 12:30-1:30) – All are welcome!


Internet of Things (IoT) devices are often battery-powered, or sometimes even energy-harvesting and battery-free. For most applications, 80% or more of power goes to communication, sending data between the IoT device and the internet at large. These two realities mean that many IoT devices use custom communication technologies, or common ones in different ways (e.g. why does my Fitbit scale make my home WiFi go literally 100x slower when it's on?).

This class will focus on how an IoT system designer should choose and use the wide array of wireless technologies. Specifically, we will look at WiFi, Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, IEEE 802.15.4, 2g/3g/4g cellular, LTE-M, NB-IoT, LoRa, SigFox, and some time with more esoteric choices, such as Visible Light Communication (VLC), Infrared Communication (IR), Ultrasonic, and boutique RF such as wake-up radios and backscatter. Persons finishing this course should be well-suited for work in real-world IoT systems upon completion.

Target Audience

The intended audience of this course is technically-oriented makers. People who want to build (non-wall-powered) interesting stuff that will eventually need to talk to the world. This class looks at the (low-power) options and tries to give some basic experience in each of them.


This class aims to be reasonably self-contained. The primary responsibilities are to come to lectures ready to engage in the material and to come to the lab days (Fridays) ready to hack. We will also have a few small homework assignments throughout the quarter. These are intended to be more fun and educational about the extant infrastructure in the world around you than a terrible amount of work. We'll end things with a modest project / report, at your choosing.


Date Topic Assignment / Additional Materials
Week 1: Introduction, Motivation, and Background
Jan 3
  • What's IoT?
  • What's “low-power”?
Jan 5
  • Fundamentals of Networking
  • (Aka CSE123 in an hour flat :D)
Jan 7
  • Learning to look at networks
  • Wireshark local network
  • Identify and report on (a) traffic you made and can find, (b) traffic you didn't know you were making, (c) something you can't identify.
  • Lab Worksheet [docx] [pdf]
Long-Range Technologies
Jan 10
Mobile Networking Origins
  • Fundamentals of ceullar technology
  • Relevance of “old” cell technology to today’s IoT
Optional Reading
Jan 12
Evolution of Cellular
  • 3G, 4G, and 5G
Jan 14 Emprical, Global Perspective of Cellular
Jan 17 No class, MLK Holiday
Jan 19
Upcoming Cellular IoT Technologies
  • LTE Cat-M
  • NB-IoT
Jan 21 Design Decisions I
  • Radio technology and device lifetime
  • Find a cellular radio and figure out how much energy it will need.
  • Lab Worksheet [docx] [pdf]
Jan 24 & 26
  • LPWAN Design
  • Unlicensed LPWANs
  • LPWAN Challenges
Papers referenced for those interested in more details:
  • Abusayeed Saifullah, et al. SNOW: Sensor Network over White Spaces. SenSys, 2016.
  • Xianjin Xia, et al. FTrack: Parallel decoding for LoRa transmissions. SenSys, 2017.
  • Shuai Tong, et al. Combating packet collisions using non-stationary signal scaling in LPWANs. MobiSys, 2020.
  • Shuai Tong, et al. CoLoRa: Enabling multipacket reception in LoRa. INFOCOM, 2020.
  • Muhammad Osama Shahid, et al. Concurrent interference cancellation: Decoding multi-packet collisions in LoRa., SIGCOMM, 2021.
Jan 28 Design Decisions II
RF in the Small: PANs and WANs
Jan 31
Bluetooth Low Energy Yes, Bluetooth really is named after a Viking king, and the symbol is his initials.
Feb 2
BLE Advertisements
  • Advertisement Detail
  • Advertisement-based Networking?
Papers referenced for those interested in more details:
  • Martin, Jeremy, et al. Handoff all your privacy–a review of apple’s bluetooth low energy continuity protocol. PETS, 2019
  • DeBruin, Samuel, et al. Powerblade: A low-profile, true-power, plug-through energy meter.SenSys, 2015.
  • Schrader, Raphael, et al. Advertising power consumption of bluetooth low energy systems. IDAACS-SWS, 2016.
  • Jeon, Wha Sook, et al. Performance analysis of neighbor discovery process in bluetooth low-energy networks. IEEE TVT, 2016.
  • Perez-Diaz de Cerio, David, et al. Analytical and experimental performance evaluation of BLE neighbor discovery process including non-idealities of real chipsets. Sensors, 2017.
  • Ghena, Branden. Investigating Low Energy Wireless Networks for the Internet of Things. PhD Thesis, 2020.
  • Kravets, Robin, et al. Beacon trains: Blazing a trail through dense BLE environments. Workshop on Challenged Networks, 2016.
Feb 4 Real-World BLE
Feb 7
BLE Connections
Feb 9
[Project Check-in]
Intro to 802.15.4
Feb 11 BLE Connections
Feb 14
Finish 802.15.4
Intro to Thread
Papers referenced for those interested in more details:
Feb 16
Thread Additional Resources:
Feb 18 Trying out Thread

For today, we are going to try to follow the official OpenThread lab.

Work in groups of (at least) three to see if you can get a Thread network running across your devices. It's quite possible that we will end up with one large Thread network at the end of the lab, that would be a success too :). Nothing to write-up or turn in today, but do want to have Thread basics working so that we can use your Thread network(s) to communicate higher-level application data next week.

Feb 21 No class, Presidents' Day Holiday
Feb 23
Mesh Routing
Mesh Flooding
Additional Resources:
Feb 25 CoAP and End-to-End Operation
Feb 28
WiFi [PHY]
Mar 2
WiFi [MAC]
Mar 4 Cancelled due to weather.
Mar 7
Boutique RF: Backscatter, Wakeup Radios Additional Resources:
Mar 9 VLC, IR, Ultrasonic
Mar 11 No lab, finish your class projects!
Finals Week

Mar 14

3–6 PM

Final Presentations

See presentation details below.

Class Project / Report

The intent of the project / report is to offer an open-ended opportunity to dig deeper into a wireless technology of your choosing. The format is deliberately under-specified here. You are welcome to implement something interesting, write a short paper, make a presentation, create a BLE-inspired interpretive dance, make an oil painting of your local spectrum utilization (seriously)—be creative! Read some about Maker Culture and make something (wireless or wireless-adjacent, please).

At this stage, you all have been doing this school thing for a while, and I trust you to create something appropriate for a small-to-medium end-of-term project. Group projects are acceptable, however, please do scale the project appropriately with the size of the group (bigger group, bigger project). You are welcome to discuss proposals with me if you wish.

Final Exam / Presentations

Instead of a final exam, we will have a "mini-conference" where each project will present their work.

Presentation Details

Logistics of this is lightly TBA until we have an understanding of how many groups will be presenting, and which modalities will be required.

We'll use the final exam slot–Monday, March 14 from 3-6pm–for the "conference." We've been assigned the same location as class, REVELLE NORTH tent, so we'll be in a familiar location :).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyright Pat Pannuto, 2022.