Integrated sensing and communications (ISAC) are envisioned to be an integral part of future wireless networks, especially when operating at the millimeter-wave (mm-wave) and terahertz (THz) frequency bands. However, establishing wireless connections at these high frequencies is quite challenging, mainly due to the penetrating path loss that prevents reliable communication and sensing. Another emerging technology for next-generation wireless systems is reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS), which refers to hardware-efficient planar structures capable of modifying harsh propagation environments. In this article, we provide a tutorial-style overview of the applications and benefits of RISs for sensing functionalities in general, and for ISAC systems in particular. We highlight the potential advantages when fusing these two emerging technologies, and identify for the first time that 1) joint sensing and communications (S&C) designs are most beneficial when the channels referring to these operations are coupled, and that 2) RISs offer the means for controlling this beneficial coupling. The usefulness of RIS-aided ISAC goes beyond the obvious individual gains of each of these technologies in both performance and power efficiency. We also discuss the main signal processing challenges and future research directions that arise from the fusion of these two emerging technologies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Signal Processing
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Applied Mathematics