The Grand Signal

A digital magazine covering the intersection of technology, human rights and social change.

Wish you could connect wirelessly without conventional power? Well, it’s possible.

August 15, 2013 | Written by The Grand Signal
Wireless device
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A group of professors and graduate students from the University of Washington have developed a method for wireless communication without the need for conventional power (batteries, plugs) by using radio waves emanating from TVs, radios, and other sources. This video shows a prototype of how the devices communicate:

The devices are able to communicate with one another by creating a binary pattern created by the variation of reflection (more commonly known among scientists as backscatter) and absorption of signals. The devices are able to switch from the two variations through a transistor which either connects or disconnects the two antennas. Power is generated from the device when the antenna is absorbing radio waves.

According to Mit Technology Review, “the devices were able to transfer data at a rate of one kilobit per second, sufficient to share sensor readings, information required to verify a device‚Äôs identity, or other simple tidbits. So far the longest links made between devices are around 2.5 feet, but the University of Washington team could extend that to as much as 20 feet with some relatively straightforward upgrades to the prototypes.”

There’s huge potential for this technology to usher in a new wave of battery-free sensors in devices. The technology still has a long way to go before being assimilated into every day technology, especially with concerns about viability of the technology in rural areas where there’s little radio signals. Nonetheless, the fact that such a technology already is in the works is impressive to say the least.

For more detail, visit the original story on Mit Technology Review

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