Energy from Wi-fi Signals May Speed IoT Technology & Innovation

Posted by Sean Carmichael on Jun 25, 2015 12:41:55 PM

 The Internet of Things may soon be powered by the excess energy in wi-fi hot spots.

Promising research suggests that the innumerable sensors and actuators deployed in the Internet of Things (IoT) may eventually be powered in part by energy drawn from wi-fi hot spots. This development could ultimately contribute to IoT technology & innovation. Recently, BBC News reported on the breakthrough work of researchers in the state of Washington.

Wi-fi Power Stored, Then Used 

As a part of the experimentation, researchers altered an ordinary battery-free surveillance camera so that it can capture power from wi-fi signals. A capacitor for storing the power made it possible for the intermittent release of energy necessary to take photographs. Specifically, they assert that the system captures enough power in 35 minutes to allow a surveillance camera to capture a single image. The team also captured enough power from wi-fi radio signals to operate a temperature sensor.

Wi-fi Signals Generate Adequate Power

The concept, simply dubbed "power-over-wi-fi," is now advanced by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. A lead researcher at the school's Sensor Systems Lab is a PhD student, Varnsi Talla. He and his team first discovered that power levels in ambient wi-fi signals were reasonably close to the operating voltages of certain IoT devices that require very low energy levels to operate.

Need for a Consistent Power Source

Ordinarily, the nature of wi-fi signals works against the idea, because intermittent short signal bursts are a less than ideal source of power. However, when low-level noise is broadcast over such networks among signals, there's a consistent source of low-level power. To accomplish this, they altered routers to broadcast low-level signals even when data was not being transmitted. They assert that this technique did not appear to slow data transmission.

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Topics: Innovation Insights, Challenges

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