Leveraging the Properties of mmWave Signals for 3D Finger Motion Tracking for Interactive IoT Applications

Yilin Liu, Shijia Zhang, Mahanth Gowda, Srihari Nelakuditi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


mmWave signals form a critical component of 5G and next-generation wireless networks, which are also being increasingly considered for sensing the environment around us to enable ubiquitous IoT applications. In this context, this paper leverages the properties of mmWave signals for tracking 3D finger motion for interactive IoT applications. While conventional vision-based solutions break down under poor lighting, occlusions, and also suffer from privacy concerns, mmWave signals work under typical occlusions and non-line-of-sight conditions, while being privacy-preserving. In contrast to prior works on mmWave sensing that focus on predefined gesture classification, this work performs continuous 3D finger motion tracking. Towards this end, we first observe via simulations and experiments that the small size of fingers coupled with specular reflections do not yield stable mmWave reflections. However, we make an interesting observation that focusing on the forearm instead of the fingers can provide stable reflections for 3D finger motion tracking. Muscles that activate the fingers extend through the forearm, whose motion manifests as vibrations on the forearm. By analyzing the variation in phases of reflected mmWave signals from the forearm, this paper designs mm4Arm, a system that tracks 3D finger motion. Nontrivial challenges arise due to the high dimensional search space, complex vibration patterns, diversity across users, hardware noise, etc. mm4Arm exploits anatomical constraints in finger motions and fuses them with machine learning architectures based on encoder-decoder and ResNets in enabling accurate tracking. A systematic performance evaluation with 10 users demonstrates a median error of 5.73° (location error of 4.07 mm) with robustness to multipath and natural variation in hand position/orientation. The accuracy is also consistent under non-line-of-sight conditions and clothing that might occlude the forearm. mm4Arm runs on smartphones with a latency of 19ms and low energy overhead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number52
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Measurement and Analysis of Computing Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 8 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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