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Wireless Communications Innovator Elected to National Academy of Engineering

K.J. Ray Liu Pioneered Advances in Signal Tracking, Motion Detection, Health Monitoring

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COLLEGE PARK, Md - A retired University of Maryland researcher known for his groundbreaking work in wireless communications and signal tracking was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The academy cited Distinguished University Professor K.J. Ray Liu, who left UMD in 2021 after more than 30 years of service in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), for innovations in “signal processing for wireless sensing with communications.”

K.J. Ray Liu headshot

He is one of 134 new members announced last month by the academy, established by Congress to honor those who make outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice and education, as well as pioneer new technological fields.

Liu has made major contributions to all those areas and is well known throughout his field, said UMD President Darryll J. Pines, Glenn L. Martin Professor of Aerospace Engineering and former dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

"Dr. Liu turned a previous assumption in his field on its head when he showed it was possible to use time-reversal physics to track radio signals indoors with just one antenna, opening up new possibilities in security, health care and other fields," he said. "His fearless innovation is a prime example of how Maryland research is solving grand challenges and making the world a better place every day."

Liu earned a B.S. from the National Taiwan University in 1983 and a Ph.D. from UCLA in 1990, both in electrical engineering. He started at UMD the same year, and during his tenure led the University of Maryland Signal and Information Group and trained over 70 Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers.

Liu also served as director of graduate studies and associate chair of ECE from 2006 to 2013, spearheading a significant growth of the Master of Telecommunications program. He received the school’s Faculty Service Award and was named a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher as well as Distinguished University Professor by the university.

Liu’s many external accolades include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fourier Award for Signal Processing (2021), IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award (2016) and Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Taiwan University (2021). He was also named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2019. Liu is the author of 12 books and more than 800 refereed journal and conference publications and holds over 70 patents. He served in 2022 as president of the IEEE, a global engineering and technology professional association of over 400,000 members worldwide.

In 2013, Liu founded Origin Wireless, a company developing new wireless AI analytic technologies for smart home systems. Origin invented the world’s first centimeter-accuracy indoor positioning/tracking system, and the company’s patented Time-Reversal Machine Technology has been applied to motion detection, home security, well-being monitoring, human breathing monitoring and fall-down detection without wearables or cameras. His inventions won the 2017 CEATEC Grand Prix and CES 2020 Innovation Award, and the company’s products are available worldwide. (Learn more about his career and innovations in this IEEE interview.)

Liu's work in signals processing and wireless communications has "changed the way we live," said Clark School Dean Samuel Graham, Jr. "We are fortunate that our school’s extended community is filled with role models whose mission is to change the world, Dr. Liu being one such person. Congratulations once again to Dr. Liu on this well-deserved honor."

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland (UMD) is the state's flagship university and a leading public research institution, propelled by a $1.3 billion joint research enterprise. Located four miles from Washington, D.C., the university is dedicated to addressing the grand challenges of our time and is the nation's first Do Good campus. It is driven by a diverse and proudly inclusive community of more than 50,000 fearless Terrapins. UMD is a top producer of Fulbright scholars and offers an unparalleled student experience with more than 300 academic programs, 25 living-learning programs and 400 study abroad programs. Spurred by a culture of innovation and creativity, UMD faculty are global leaders in their field and include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and members of the national academies. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit umd.edu.

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