MIT professors Fadel Adib and Dina Katabi receive the ACM SIGMOBILE Test-of-Time Award for their paper, “See Through Walls with WiFi!” which was published in ACM SIGCOMM 2013. This award recognizes papers that have made significant and sustained impact on the research community over at least a decade. This paper formed the core of Adib's master's thesis when he was a graduate student at MIT, and which at the time received the best master's thesis award in computer science at MIT. The paper led to significant follow-on research that forms today the field of wireless sensing and influenced many products on the mass market as well as the next-generation of WiFi and 6G standards.
The award citation recognizes the paper for its profound contributions, stating: This research, considered one of the earliest contributions to RF sensing, delved into the analysis of Wi-Fi signals reflecting off human bodies, enabling the tracking of people's activities and vital signs, even when obscured by walls. The profound implications of this paper inspired our community to embark on follow-on research on wireless sensing, fostering the development of various applications such as gesture recognition, heartbeat monitoring, and even emotion detection. Leveraging a diverse range of wireless technologies including LTE, mmWave, Bluetooth, LoRa, UWB, and acoustics, this groundbreaking research also facilitated contactless sensing, revolutionizing numerous healthcare applications.
This award adds to the various accolades that Adib and Katabi received for this work, including Adib being named as one of the world's top 35 innovators under 35 in 2014, and the invitation of Adib and Katabi to the White House where they demoed this research to President Obama in 2015.