Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle have conducted the first successful experiments with the modified camera, and they believe the approach can be extended to cover a wide array of devices. Thanks to the new technology, the team argues they could soon turn the Internet of Things scenario into reality.
“Great things are expected of the Internet of Things but only if engineers can solve one potential showstopper of a question: how to power these numerous tiny machines,” the report said. Lead author Vamsi Talla and his colleagues believe many remote devices can be powered via Wi-Fi in the not too distant future.
The researchers are optimistic about the implementation of the new method since the required infrastructure is already present in most people’s homes. The new technology has already received a catchy name – PoWi-Fi, short for power over Wi-Fi.
The University of Washington team started conducting the first experiments after some researchers noticed the energy transferred by ambient Wi-Fi signals would be enough to power up some low-power devices. However, they first had to ensure a constant delivery of energy takes place across multiple frequencies, since Wi-Fi signals are usually passed in intermittent bursts.
In order to do so, they added a noise to the routers that remained active even when some broadcast channels were not used. The decrease in data transfer rates across multiple Wi-Fi devices was negligible, so the researchers started playing with a camera next.
The scientists picked a low-power camera to test the effectiveness of the power transfer. The device was set to take a picture each time it gathered enough energy from ambient signals. The team noticed the capacitor refilled every 35 minutes.
While it doesn’t sound very impressive, the researchers argue the method can be further enhanced to return better results. For instance, by adding a rechargeable battery to the camera, the device could be powered through a wall, to a distance of up to 7 meters.
Mr. Talla argues PoWi-Fi could make the Internet of Things dream come true sooner than expected. And it has to be said, the technology required is not that sophisticated. We’ll probably have to wait and see how the battery industry will react to the new discovery.
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