The world of technology is growing so fast that sometimes it becomes really difficult to fathom what lies ahead! Can you imagine living in a world where battery-free wristwatch or household gadgets directly communicates with the doctor or dietician, updating him about your health condition on daily basis? What about battery-free sensors for your home which has the capacity to track minute-by-minute temperature changes and send that information to your thermostat so as to help conserve energy?
With Wi-Fi Backscatter technology all these and much more will be possible in near future! Researchers are right now working on this unique technique which will soon enable ‘Internet of Things’ to be wired into the net. This is a simple term which means everyday household appliances or cars that till now need batteries or plugged-in power sources will use Wi-Fi infrastructure to connect to the Internet. Each of these devices will come embedded with sensors which will help monitor and track anything and everything, be it daily routine and health condition of an individual or structural safety of a newly build construction.
Wi-Fi Backscatter explained
The technology is basically about connecting and controlling radio waves thereby harvesting energy to power sensors which remain embedded in your mobile or household gadget. This means you won’t have to look for a power source always to charge your laptop. Wi-Fi connectivity will take care of this. Till date, devices have been powered from ambient radio-frequency sources. This in turn demands a dedicated gateway for Internet connectivity, thereby enhancing costs to a great extent.
Researchers have now come up with ultra-low power tag prototype that reuses the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure by using RF signals as power source to provide connectivity to compact devices. The design includes an antenna and circuitry which will be able to talk to all types of Wi-Fi-enabled device be it your laptop, Smartphone or household appliance. The entire procedure will consume negligible power, thereby reducing overall expenses.
This Wi-Fi backscatter tag has already communicated with Wi-Fi device at data rate of up to 1 kilobit/second. A distance of 2 meters was maintained between the Wi-Fi devices. Now, scientists have bigger plan of extending this range to approx. 20 meters. Patents have been already filed on this technology.
What does the future hold for Wi-Fi enabled battery free devices?
Considering current progress, the future indeed seems promising. Endless applications and devices will benefit from Wi-Fi reflection technology. According to an assistant professor at the University of Washington, once the Internet of Things gains momentum, connectivity will be needed for over a billion battery-free devices from personal and commercial segments.
What is most intriguing is that many low-powered devices like temperature sensors or wearable technology will run by harnessing energy from existing devices like radio, TV or wireless signal in the air. This is like taking a step further whereby each individual device gets connected to the Internet. While similar attempts were made in the past, none of these succeeded. Now all eyes are on the Wi-Fi Backscatter team and how their endeavor shapes up in future!