Verification and Redesign of OFDM Backscatter


Xin Liu, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Zicheng Chi, Cleveland State University; Wei Wang, Yao Yao, Pei Hao, and Ting Zhu, University of Maryland, Baltimore County


Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) has been widely used in WiFi, LTE, and adopted in 5G. Recently, researchers have proposed multiple OFDM-based WiFi backscatter systems that use the same underlying design principle (i.e., codeword translation) at the OFDM symbol-level to transmit the tag data. However, since the phase error correction in WiFi receivers can eliminate the phase offset created by a tag, the codeword translation requires specific WiFi receivers that can disable the phase error correction. As a result, phase error is introduced into the decoding procedure of the codeword translation, which significantly increases the tag data decoding error. To address this issue, we designed a novel OFDM backscatter called TScatter, which uses high-granularity sample-level modulation to avoid the phase offset created by a tag being eliminated by phase error correction. Moreover, by taking advantage of the phase error correction, our system is able to work in more dynamic environments. Our design also has two advantages: much lower BER and higher throughput. We conducted extensive evaluations under different scenarios. The experimental results show that TScatter has i) three to four orders of magnitude lower BER when its throughput is similar to the latest OFDM backscatter system MOXcatter; or ii) more than 212 times higher throughput when its BER is similar to MOXcatter. Our design is generic and has the potential to be applied to backscatter other OFDM signals (e.g., LTE and 5G).

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@inproceedings {262009,
author = {Xin Liu and Zicheng Chi and Wei Wang and Yao Yao and Pei Hao and Ting Zhu},
title = {Verification and Redesign of {OFDM} Backscatter},
booktitle = {18th {USENIX} Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation ({NSDI} 21)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-21-2},
pages = {939--953},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = apr,

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