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Ultra low power Wi-Fi using backscatter technology

Editorial
article image UCLA researchers in collaboration with JPL have developed a WiFi backscatter reflector link.

ULTRA Low Power Wi-Fi could be a possibility in the near future with the development of a Wi-Fi reflector link.

Currently, Wi-Fi technology requires every device to carry a transmitter, which drains a lot of power, making it ill-suited for smaller embedded and wearable devices with smaller batteries.

UCLA researchers in collaboration with JPL have developed a WiFi backscatter reflector link, which works by reflecting existing Wi-Fi signals present in the environment to communicate with a router or other Wi-Fi source.

The device does not generate a Wi-Fi signal; it just requires one to be present. This technology consumes only 0.01% of the power of a regular network link.

To date, JPL researchers Adrian Tang, Nacer Chahat and Rod Kim together with UCLA faculty Frank Chang have demonstrated reflector links up to 3 Mb/s at ranges of up to 2.5m in the laboratory. With more advanced signal processing, the devices could eventually operate up to 20 meters with data rates of around  50 Mb/s).

One year ago, backscatter signals were limited to just 2KB/second, so the speed boost with the latest research is making waves in the science community.

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