Engineers from Washington have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on battery or wires for power. The devices use the so-called ambient backscatter technologies which reportedly communicate with users without using battery power. Instead they exchange information by reflecting or absorbing pre -existing radio signals from TV and cellular transmissions.
The researchers have developed battery-free, small devices with antennas that can detect, use and reflect a TV signal which then is picked up by other small devices.
‘We can reuse the RF signals around us as source of power and a communication medium and hopefully it can be used in a no. of areas like wearable computing, smart homes and self-sustaining sensor networks,’ said by Shyam Gollakota, an UW professor of computer science and engineering.
‘Our devices form a network out of thin layer and you can reflect these signals slightly to create a Morse code of communication between battery-free devices,’ said by co-author Joshua Smith, a UW associate professor.
According to the University of Washington, the smart sensor can be built and put under any structure permanently. Such as when placed under a bridge, it could monitor the health of the concrete and steel and then send an alert if any sensor pick up a even a hairline crack. This technology can also be used for communication, text message or e-mails in wearable devices.
The researcher tested the ambient backscatter technique with credit card-sized prototypes having placed within a few several feet of each other. They have used antennas into ordinary circuit boards that flash an LED light when receiving a communication signal from another device.
Groups of these devices are being tested in various environments including inside apartment buildings, on street corners and on top level parking areas. These places were around 1-6.5 miles away from TV stations.
They also saw that how one credit card can transfer money to other credit card by leveraging the existing wireless signals around them. The receiving devices had strength at rate of 1 kilobit per second when up to 2.5 feet apart outdoor and 1.5 feet apart indoors. This is enough to send information such as sensor reading and text messages.
It is also claimed that this system can be built into smart phones such that when the battery dies it can still send texts by gaining power from an ambient TV signal.
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