VISORSURF's objective is to develop a full stack of hardware and software components for smart, interconnected planar objects with programmable electromagnetic behavior, the HyperSurfaces. The key-enablers are the metasurfaces, artificial materials whose electromagnetic properties depend on their internal structure. HyperSurfaces merge metasurfaces with embedded electronic control elements and well-defined software programming interfaces and tools. The control elements receive external software commands and alter the metasurface structure, yielding a desired electromagnetic behavior.
Metasurfaces, thin and planar artificial structures, have recently enabled the realization of novel electromagnetic and optical components with engineered and even unnatural functionalities. These include electromagnetic invisibility of objects (cloaking), total radiation absorption, as well as fine-grained manipulation of impinging electromagnetic emissions in terms of direction, polarity, phase and power in a frequency-selective manner. Nonetheless, metasurfaces do not offer a well-defined way of integration to products and interconnectivity to the Internet of Things. Designing and operating metasurfaces remains an extremely specialized and undocumented task, limiting their accessibility and use within the broad engineering field.
VISORSURF proposes a hardware and software platform-the HyperSurface-that separates usability concerns from the underlying physics. In terms of software, the end-functionality of HyperSurfaces is described in well-defined, reusable software modules that facilitate their use from the software development realm:
- The HyperSurface Application Programming Interface (API), which exposes supported electromagnetic behaviors—such as wave steering, absorbing, polarizing—in simple, well-defined parametric callbacks, allowing for transparently hosting multiple functionalities concurrently and adaptively.
- The Electromagnetic Compiler, which handles the translation of the API callbacks to corresponding low-level, physical changes within the HyperSurface
In terms of hardware, VISORSURF will design, manufacture and evaluate a variety of high-risk, high-gain exploratory prototypes, both in terms of electromagnetic behavior and embedded electronic control agents. These include:
- A switch-based fabric array as the electromagnetic medium, incorporating miniaturized, low-power Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) as embedded control agents.
- A Graphene-based prototype, making use of its exquisite properties to provide finer, frequency-selective electromagnetic control.