Wireless & Internet Tech

A Passive Means to Reduce Wifi Energy Use

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University of Washington researchers reveal a means to reduce the power consumption involved with wifi networks-- "Passive Wifi" using virtually no energy even when providing data transfer speeds of up to 11Mbps.

Passive WifiFor the curious Passive Wifi energy consumption reaches up to 49.28 µW when pushing 11Mbps transmissions. Energy use is even lower during 1Mbps transmissions, being around 14.48µW. According to the researchers such a rate is 1000x lower than Bluetooth LE and ZigBee, or 10000x lower than existing wifi chipsets.

To achieve such power reductions Passive Wifi involves a redesign of the power-hungry radios making a router, creating a single device users plug into walls. The plug-in device generates a continuous wifi signal which in turn is reflected by passive devices, creating a chain of low-power transmitters.

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Samsung Proposes "Space Internet"

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Samsung proposes a means to provide the world with an additional zetabyte of data transfer capacity every month-- a "Space Internet" system consisting of 4600 tiny Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

Space InternetIn a paper titled "Mobile Internet from the Heavens," Samsung R&D president Farooq Khan forecasts global demand for mobile demand will reach 1 zettabyte per month by 2028, and as such companies need to gear up now if they want to provide the bandwidth required.

Enter the Space Internet. The system consists of a network of so-called micro satellites (weighting less than 500kg) at 1500-2000km altitude. Such satellites cost relatively less to manufacture and deploy, and can essentially blanket the world with faster mobile internet (providing 200GB/month for 5 billion users worldwide) following the widespread adoption of 5G technology.

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NASA's Low-Power Wifi "Reflector"

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Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) design a wifi chip to bring great power savings to connected mobile devices through the use of reflections instead of the regular transmitter/receiver component.

Wifi reflection"The idea is if the wearable device only needs to reflect the wifi signal from a router or cell tower, instead of generate it, the power consumption can go way down (and the battery life can go way up)," researcher Adrian Tang says.

In a few words, the concept uses a simple switch mechanism where incoming energy absorbed the circuit is "0" and reflected energy is "1." Such a system uses very little power and allows for fast data transfer between a wearable device and any other device capable of receiving data.

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Wifi Alliance Launches Wifi Aware

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The Wifi Alliance presents a new certification program-- Wifi Aware, a means to validate the capability for energy-efficient, proxy-based service discovery among wifi-enabled devices.

Wifi AwareIn other words, it allows devices to discover other devices, applications and information nearby before making a wifi connection. The system continuously scans surroundings, anticipates actions and notifies users of available services and selected preferences.

The alliance adds the Wifi Aware operates indoors and in dense environments, and does not require cellular, wifi or GPS connectivity. Instead it makes use of small, power-efficient messages to create a common "heartbeat" between devices before an app initiates wifi connection to follow-up on activities such as photo sharing or multiplayer games.

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The Next Means of Device Charging: Wifi?

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Researchers at the University of Washington propose wifi can do more than simply wirelessly connect devices to networks and the internet-- it might also be able to charge device through "Power over Wifi" (PoWiFi).

BatteryThe system consist of two components, namely an access point (or router) and specially-built sensors. The access point features custom software allowing it to simultaneously act as power delivery source and wifi router, while the sensors harvest RF power and convert it into DC power.

Admittedly wifi signals carry a limited amount of power-- 1W to be precise, making it unsuitable with smartphones but still ideal for small connected devices. As such the researchers have used PoWiFi to power a small camera located 5m away from a router, as well as charge a fitness charger and temperature sensors.

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