About Me

I am a Ph.D. student in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, advised by Josiah Hester. I am part of Ka Moamoa Lab where I am working towards making sustainable, energy-harvesting, battery-free sensing devices a reality. My research focuses on exploring new hardware designs, systems, and tools to build tiny computers that reliably execute programs with constrained resources under unpredictable conditions that cause frequent power failures.


My research primarily involves designing new hardware/software platforms to enable the deployment of emerging inference-focused applications in extreme energy harvesting conditions. I develop energy-aware adaptive runtime systems for efficient use of harvested energy and reimagine machine learning algorithms to perform on-device, low-latency, and low-energy inferences. I explore new energy harvesting techniques for powering battery-free wearables. I am also interested in developing tools and programming interfaces to help novice developers and hobbyists easily design, debug, and deploy sustainable batteryless sensors.


Before joining Georgia Tech, I completed my Masters in Computer Science from Northwestern University, and Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Pakistan.


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News

12-2021

Two full first-author papers on adaptive battery-free intermittent computing accepted to ACM SenSys 2022

12-2021

ٖFaceBit, our smart face mask platform was selected as a Finalist in the Students category by Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards

09-2022

Transferred to GaTech from Northwestern University. Continuing PhD in the School of Interactive Computing

04-2022

Selected as a CPS Rising Star!

01-2022

FaceBit, our smart face mask platform was covered by Forbes, Scientific American, Tech Crunch, and many others!

12-2021

Paper on logic-based intelligence for batteryless sensors accepted to Hotmobile 2022

11-2021

Paper on smart face masks accepted to ACM IMWUT 2022

09-2021

BFree, a novice-friendly system for battery-free sensor prototyping with Python was featured in The Independent!

07-2021

Paper on an intermittent adaptation platform accepted to ACM IMWUT 2021

01-2021

Accepted an offer to join Nokia Bell Labs' Pervasive Computing Group for internship in Fall 2021

12-2020

Paper on battery-free sensor prototyping with python accepted to ACM IMWUT 2021

03-2020

Paper on an energy analysis tool for transiently powered computers accepted to ACM TECS 2020

02-2020

Received SIG travel grant to attend ASPLOS 2020

11-2019

Paper on a low-overhead and time-sensitive intermittent computing system accepted to ASPLOS 2020

04-2019

EPIC, an energy profiling tool for intermittently powered systems accepted to LCTES 2019

11-2018

Received NSF travel grant to attend SenSys 2018

09-2018

Paper on analyzing energy harvesting modes for intermittent adaptation accepted to ENSsys 2018

11-2018

Paper on energy-efficient air conditioning in older buildings accepted to ACM TOSN 2018

09-2018

Started grad school in EECS department at Northwestern University

11-2017

Hawadaar, our distributed air conditioning system received People's Choice Award at BuildSys 2017

08-2017

Paper on an inverted HVAC system accepted to BuildSys 2017


Awards

2022

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Rising Star, sponsored by National Science Foundation

2020

SIG Travel Award to attend ASPLOS 2020

2018

NSF Travel Award to attend ACM SenSys 2018

2017

People's Choice Award for Inverted HVAC at ACM BuildSys 2017

2017

ACM SIGMOBILE Travel Award to attend ACM BuildSys 2017

2015

Dean's Honor List for outstanding academic performance in three semesters

2014

Best Intern award at SysNet Lab


Publications

Logic-based intelligence for batteryless sensors

Abu Bakar, Tousif Rahman, Alessandro Montanari, Jie Lei, Rishad Shafik, Fahim Kawsar

International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile'22)

In this work, we explore a logic-based inference algorithm, Tsetlin Machine (TM), for making batteryless sensors intelligent. Because of constrained memory, energy and compute resources, using TM models as is in real-world applications is not possible. We propose a lossless compression scheme based on run-length encoding and show that it can compress the model by up to 99%. This translates into a lower memory footprint and better energy efficiency (up to 4.9x) compared to the original Tsetlin Machine algorithm, and provides promising trade offs when compared against state-of-the-art binary neural networks.


FaceBit: Smart Face Masks Platform

Alex Curtiss, Blaine Rothrock, Abu Bakar, Nivedita Arora, Jason Huang, Zachary Englhardt, Aaron-Patrick Empedrado, Chixiang Wang, Saad Ahmed, Yang Zhang, Nabil Alshurafa, Josiah Hester

Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT/UbiComp'22)

FaceBit is an unobtrusive, intelligent platform that sticks with masks and collects various physiological signals. It monitors heart rate without skin contact via ballistocardiography, respiration rate via temperature changes, and mask-fit and wear-time from pressure signals, all on-device with an energy-efficient runtime system. It’s basically a FitBit for your face! FaceBit can harvest energy from breathing, motion, or sunlight to supplement its tiny primary cell battery that alone delivers a battery lifetime of 11 days or more.

Fast Company 2022 Innovation by Design Award—Finalist in the Students category


REHASH: A Flexible, Developer Focused, Heuristic Adaptation Platform for Intermittently Powered Computing

Abu Bakar, Alexander G. Ross, Kasım Sinan Yıldırım, Josiah Hester

Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT/UbiComp'21)

Maintaining usefulness despite erratic and irregular energy availability, which causes inconsistent execution and loss of service, is paramount for battery-free systems. Adapting execution (degrading or upgrading performance) in real time based on available seems promising to stave off power failures, meet deadlines, or increase throughput. REHASH is an energy-aware adaptive runtime system that collects lightweight signals that stem from the intermittent execution of programs and combines them in simple heuristic functions to predict energy availability which helps applications dynamically adjust their complexity at run-time. A simulation tool, REHASH-explorer, helps developers select signals and design heuristic functions that best suits their application needs.

SIGMOBILE GetMobile Research Highlight 2022


BFree: Enabling Battery-free Sensor Prototyping with Python

Vito Kortbeek, Abu Bakar, Stefany Cruz, Kasım Sinan Yıldırım, Przemysław Pawełczak, Josiah Hester

Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT/UbiComp'21)

BFree allows the development of battery-free applications, to novices and hobbyists, using the Python (leveraging AdaFruit’s CircuitPython ecosystem) programming language and widely available hobbyist maker platforms. BFree provides energy harvesting hardware and a power failure resilient version of Python, with durable libraries that enable common coding practice and off-the-shelf sensors. This work allows makers to engage with a useful, long-term, and environmentally responsible future of ubiquitous computing.


Time-sensitive Intermittent Computing Meets Legacy Software

Vito Kortbeek, Kasım Sinan Yıldırım, Abu Bakar, Jacob Sorber, Przemysław Pawełczak, Josiah Hester

International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS'20)

TICS is a checkpoint-based runtime system for battery-free intermittently-powered devices that guarantees forward progress, data consistency, and correctness. TICS provides simple programming abstractions for handling the passing of time through intermittent failures, and uses this to make decisions about when data can be used or thrown away. It also provides predictable checkpoint sizes by keeping checkpoint and restore times small, enabling numerous existing embedded applications to run intermittently.


The Betrayal of Constant Power × Time: Finding the Missing Joules of Transiently-powered Computers

Saad Ahmed, Abu Bakar, Naveed Anwar Bhatti, Muhammad Hamad Alizai, Junaid Haroon Siddiqui, Luca Mottola

International Conference on Languages, Compilers, and Tools for Embedded Systems (LCTES'19)

EPIC is a compile-time energy analysis tool for transiently-powered systems. It substitutes the assumption of constant power consumption in existing analysis techniques for battery-free systems, with a dynamic power consumption model, giving programmers accurate information on worst-case energy consumption of programs. Using EPIC with existing debugging tools, programmers can avoid unnecessary program changes that hurt energy efficiency .


Inverting HVAC for Energy Efficient Thermal Comfort in Populous Emerging Countries

Khadija Hafeez, Yasra Chandio, Abu Bakar, Ayesha Ali, Affan A. Syed, Tariq M. Jadoon, Muhammad Hamad Alizai

International Conference on Systems for Energy-Efficient Built Environments (BuildSys'17)

Emerging countries predominantly rely on room-level air conditioning units (window ACs, space heaters, ceiling fans) for thermal comfort. These distributed units have manual, decentralized control leading to suboptimal energy usage for two reasons: excessive setpoints by individuals, and inability to interleave different conditioning units for maximal energy saving. In this work, we made Hawadaar, a novel inverted HVAC approach that cheaply retrofits these distributed units with centralized "on-off" control. With 20% market penetration, Hawadaar can save up to 6% of electricity per capita in residential and commercial sectors.

People's Choice Award


Design of a Laser Tracker Using 2-DOF Stepper Controlled Platform

Abu Bakar, Neelam Nasir, Mukhtar Ullah, Zeashan Hameed Khan

International Conference on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (ICRAI'16)

In this work, we propose a novel approach to track a moving object using an infrared laser mounted on a 2 degree of freedom (DOF) stepper-controlled platform. The proposed approach can achieve a wide range of tracking distance with precision, and therefore finds various applications in navigation, localization and control of autonomous robotic systems. Moreover, this setup can also be used to provide power to a moving object wirelessly while measuring its speed of motion at the same time.


Education

Ph.D. in Computer Science
Georgia Institute of Technology
2022 - Present
Atlanta, GA, USA
Northwestern University
2020 - 2022
Evanston, IL, USA

Transferred to Georgia Institute of Technology

M.S. in Computer Science
Northwestern University
2018 - 2020
Evanston, IL, USA
B.S. in Electrical Engineering
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences
2012 - 2016
Islamabad, Pakistan

Mentioned in Dean's Honor List


Work Experience

Professional Work
Graduate Research Assistant
Georgia Institute of Technology
2022 - Present
Atlanta, GA, USA

Developing battery-free health-sensing wearables that are powered by users' activities

Graduate Research Assistant
Northwestern University
2018 - 2022
Evanston, IL, USA

Developed new hardware designs and runtime systems for adaptive batteryless devices, and explored different energy harvesting sources (soil microbes, breathing, physical activity) for environmental and health-sensing applications.

Research Intern
Nokia Bell Labs—Pervasive Computing Group
Fall 2021
Cambridge, UK

Designed logic-based machine learning algorithms (differing from arithmetic-based neural networks) for batteryless sensors, introduced new encoding techniques for compressing trained models and reducing inference latency, and developed adaptation techniques for adjusting model complexity at runtime based on available harvested energy on batteryless sensors.

Research Assistant
SysNet Lab—LUMS School of Science and Engineering
2016 - 2018
Lahore, Pakistan

Worked on developing: an energy-efficient inverted HVAC system, a hardware platform for evaluating a runtime system designed for battery-free devices, and a mechanism for estimating dynamic energy consumption of battery-free devices at compile time.

Undergraduate Research Intern
SysNet Lab—National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences
Summer 2014
Islamabad, Pakistan

Worked on wirelessly powering sensor nodes using a 808nm infrared laser.

Best Intern Award

Services
Paper Reviewer
Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT)
2022 - Present

Reviewing two papers per quarter

Student Mentor
Northwestern University
2018 - Present

Jason Huang (BS)
Alejandra Almonte (BS)
Julia Persche (MS)
Rishabh Goel (MS), PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology
Alexander Ross (BS/MS), Electronics Engineer at Gerresheimer
Eugene Choe (BS/MS), Firmware Engineer at Samsung Semiconductor
Jackson Schuster (BS/MS), Software Engineer at Microsoft
Julian Richey (BS/MS), ASIC Design Engineer at Amazon

Leadership Roles
Treasurer
Toastmasters International—Northwestern University Club
2019 - 2020
Evanston, IL, USA

Managed finances for the university club including student memberships.

Chairperson IEEE Student Branch
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences
2015 - 2016
Islamabad, Pakistan

Managed a team of 10 people and organized competitions, workshops, and seminars for students. All activities were focused on research and technology trends in industry and academia.

President IEEE Robotics Club
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences
2015
Islamabad, Pakistan

Organized workshops and maintained a maker space to help students learn, practice, and polish their skills in robotics.