Wireless battery-less sensors could extend IoT reach further

Wireless battery-less sensors could extend IoT reach further

Wireless battery-less sensors could extend IoT reach further
Wireless battery-less sensors could extend IoT reach further

Researcher at University of Washington develop IoT sensors powered by electromagnetic radiation

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new technology that could enable IoT sensors to work wirelessly without batteries.

The technology allows sensors and small electronics to be powered completely wirelessly from TV, radio, cell phone, and wireless signals.

This research relies on a principle called backscattering. So far researchers have developed tiny devices including cameras, motion sensors, temperature sensors, and other devices that require no battery or any wiring.

In a research paper, the scientists said that Computational RFID (CRFID) devices are emerging platforms that can enable perennial computation and sensing by eliminating the need for batteries.

“Although much research has been devoted to improving upstream (CRFID to RFID reader) communication rates, the opposite direction has so far been neglected, presumably due to the difficulty of guaranteeing fast and error-free transfer amidst frequent power interruptions of CRFID. With growing interest in the market where CRFIDs are forever-embedded in many structures, it is necessary for this void to be filled,” the researchers said.

The researcher proposed a technology called Wisent, which they said was a downstream communication protocol for CRFIDs that operates on top of the legacy UHF RFID communication protocol: EPC C1G2. The devices could be embedded in anything, including living things, once for its entire lifetime.

They added that as the complexity of use cases for CRFIDs grow, there is another emerging maintenance requirement: the need to patch or replace the firmware of the device, or to alter application parameters including the RFID radio layer controls. “In current CRFIDs, maintenance of firmware (due to e.g. errors) requires a physical connection to CRFID, nulling the main benefit of battery-free operation.”

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IoT devices get wireless updates

This means that devices could be updated without the need of a cable.

The researchers added that Wisent devices can be manufactured very cheaply – perhaps less than a dollar per component. This would allow wireless power for applications such as smoke detectors or surveillance cameras.

One area that the wireless technology could benefit are smart cities. Dr. Neil Garner, founder of WhiteSpace Norwich, told Internet of Business that wireless connectivity is a key component for this.

“In the next 12-18 months, consumers will be seeing a lot more innovation, early deployments and piecemeal services,” he said.

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