What’s the point in investing in IoT technologies when they need to be powered “on” and charged all of the time? If we only turn on devices such as baby monitors and security systems when we need them, they lose their purpose, which is to provide you with 24/7 monitoring and service.
On the other hand, WiFi consumes a lot of power and changing and swapping batteries in these home devices can be a hassle. WiFi backscatter, a new prototype developed by the University of Washington computer science and engineering team, holds the potential to change the IoT world as we know it.
How does this work? The WiFi backscatter, an ultra-low power tag with an antenna and circuitry that can be connected to a variety of electronic devices, can talk to wireless enabled laptops or smartphones while consuming very little power. The tags monitor WiFi signals between the router and laptop, for example, and encode data by either reflecting or not reflecting the signals.
The reflections, as detected by the WiFi backscatter, result in changes to the WiFi signal strength. Devices like a smartwatch, or an LED light bulb, exchange data through these WiFi signal changes, and can send information back and forth from your laptop or smartphone, using less than ten megawatts of power.
Some of the biggest advantages of this new prototype are the number of devices this new technology can interact with and the ease of implementation with current WiFi routers within the home. For example, wireless access points could be upgraded to work with the WiFi backscatter through a mere software update.
The team at the University of Washington has filed patents for the product with the desire to start a company based on the technology. Whether your goal is protect your home or provide mood lighting, the WiFi backscatter is sure to make waves in the IoT industry.