skip to content

Department of Computer Science and Technology

Image of PhD students Lorena Qendro (left) and Andrea Ferlini working with a Nokia Bell Labs' earable prototype as part of a collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs.

A researcher into the use of wearable devices for health monitoring has just won the 2023 ACM SIGMOBILE Doctoral Dissertation Runner-up Award.

Dr Andrea Ferlini - who completed his PhD here with Professor Cecilia Mascolo - was announced as the sole runner-up for this year's Dissertation Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world's largest association of computing professionals. He received the award for his dissertation 'For advancing the state of art of sensing in ear-worn devices'.

Andrea, pictured above centre, is the only researcher outside the USA to have won this award.

The SIGMOBILE Doctoral Dissertation award is given annually to recognise excellent thesis research by doctoral candidates in the field of mobile computing and wireless networks. Every year, one winner and up to two runners-up are recognised by the Special Interest Group for their work in this area.

Andrea, who is now a Research Scientist with Nokia Bell Labs, works in the area of sensing in wearable devices that can be used for health monitoring.

Using in-ear devices for health monitoring
This Department and Nokia Bell Labs have been working in collaboration on the development of what are called 'earables' - ear-worn devices like wireless earbuds. 

Nokia Bell Labs developed a new platform for earable technologies, and the University of Cambridge is one of a number of universities working on it. Researchers here are focusing on how to process and understand the information coming out of the earables and how to make mobile computing systems more efficient and secure.

In his doctoral research Andrea was attempting to solve a long-standing, hard problem of motion estimation using only the sensors found in earables.   

His PhD supervisor, Professor Cecilia Mascolo, says Andrea's doctoral research has helped advance our understanding of the capabilities and limitations of a range of sensors in earables, including accelerometers, magnetometers and in-ear microphones.

"The contributions within his dissertation were really innovative and two of the chapters have already been published at top-tier SIGMOBILE conferences, namely MobiSys and Mobicom," she says. 

"An impressive achievement"
Professor Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Chair of the ACM SIGMOBILE Dissertation Award Committee, said the committee had been "impressed with the new custom hardware to extend the sensing capability of such devices".

He added: "We received many strong nominations this year, but Andrea's work stood out in its depth and strength of contributions. Congratulations to him on this impressive achievement!"

Andrea says that he feels "honored and humbled" to have his worked recognised in this way. He adds: "I hope this will be the cornerstone of my future research and career, and I really want to thank Cecilia, my supervisor, who advised me and kindly steered me when needed since the first day we met."

Well done Andrea. And congratulations also to Dissertation Award Winner Jinxian Wang, who was chosen for his doctoral dissertation at Carnegie Mellon University, 'For advancing the science and interdisciplinary applications of wireless energy transfer'.

Published by Rachel Gardner on Tuesday 11th July 2023