PhD Studentship: Indoor Localisation via Passive WiFi Backscatter Sensing

University of Bristol - Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering

The project:

Accurate indoor localisation is a rich source of information for understanding human behaviour. Video depth cameras and wearable technologies can provide high levels of accuracy and represent the state-of-the-art in indoor localisation.  Wearable technologies (such as wristbands) tend to have limited battery life and have a high risk of non-compliance; commercial solutions based on UWB (Time of Arrival - ToA) can offer very accurate positioning, but with power consumption, the battery life of the wearable tag is several hours (too short for long term localisation applications).

This project focusses instead on a next generation of localisation, which exploits ambient Radio Frequency (RF) signals through passive radar technology. RF signals such as those arising from Wi-Fi transmissions typically cover entire households. The reflections of these signals from people provide a rich source that can be used to determine localisation information (and in some cases physical activity information), without requiring a wearable device and with much lower perceived intrusion.

To address the main challenge of resolution and interference, the project will look to significantly increase the measurement accuracy and inference in both range and bearing by developing new machine learning and radar signal processing techniques.

Further particulars:

The quality of research at the University of Bristol places it within the top five Universities in the UK based on the Research Excellence Framework and Times higher Education rankings 2014-15.  The PhD candidate will be a part of a friendly and diverse community, with the Bristol Doctoral College (BDC) as the focal central coordinating facility. Alongside the specialist training the candidate will receive in PhD-specific topics, the BDC offers approximately 200 courses, interactive workshops and seminars as a part of the University’s Personal and Professional Development Programme for PGR students. The BDC organises University-wide events and provides a hub of information, guidance and resources to help researchers to get the most of their time at Bristol.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select < Electrical & Electronic Engineering> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor

Candidate requirements:

We are looking for an enthusiastic student with either a minimum 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Computer Science.


The studentship is funded for 4 years by EPSRC and co-funded by our industrial partner Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.  The eligibility criteria are listed on EPSRC website.  Funds are also available for travel to conferences.


Please contact Dr Robert Piechocki,

For general enquiries, please email

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South West England