Wireless To Go Battery-less With Ambient Backscatter Technique

The wireless devices will soon go battery free and create a network for information exchange out of thin air. Say hello to a new technique called Ambient Backscatter created by professors at the Washington University. The technique relies on the TV and cellular transmissions that are already surrounding us at any moment of time. The researchers have developed small battery-free prototype devices that can identify the TV / Cellular signal using antennas and harness them. This technology, the researchers say, will enable forming a network of devices and sensors that can communicate with each other without needing an external power source or human attention.

Image Credit: University Of Washington​

Shyam Gollakota, assistant professor of CS & Engineering says that the researchers were able to repurpose the wireless signals that already exist in the air into both source of power and a communication medium. He expects that the technology will have applications in a number of areas like wearable computing, self-powered sensor networks and smart homes etc.

Sensors built using Backscatter Technique can be built inside nearly any structure and can communicate with each other. That is, an array of sensors built inside a bridget will be able to monitor the health of the concrete as well as the steel columns / strings. The rate at which the sensors could communicate with each other was about 1 kbps when separated 2.5 ft outdoors and about 1.5 ft. indoors. This data transmission rate is just enough to send the sensor readings, text messages and contact information as well.

The technical details of the technology are available in the source link (pdf).

Source: #-Link-Snipped-#


  • Nayan Goenka
    Nayan Goenka
    I believe this will only work where you have ample other type of signals in the environment. Only then it can harvest enough power and then transmit data.

    On other hand, don't you think it will damage the already present signals? If it will capture them and use as power, the original signal should malfunction. Maybe it was a message to some one else
  • Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    How can the device search for tv/other signals without a power source?Please elaborate on its working if you have time.
  • Sakshi Solanki
    Sakshi Solanki
    I guess, it won't malfunction the original signal, distortion here should be very less. (similar to the analogy of conversion of sound to electricity)
  • Jeffrey Arulraj
    Jeffrey Arulraj
    Nayan Goenka
    On other hand, don't you think it will damage the already present signals? If it will capture them and use as power, the original signal should malfunction. Maybe it was a message to some one else
    If this is true then every house which has a dish will be distorting the signal in the air by capturing an intensity of energy from the Radio waves in the sky

    This is not actual scenario the whole set up is so fool proof cos the power of transmitted wave is higher than the power of the reciever at any time

    PS: Jammers use this to distort signal and Jammer signals have higher power
  • mani auto
    mani auto
    if its working really great,in future we can solve many power source problem..
  • Nayan Goenka
    Nayan Goenka
    My point was, it will definitely destroy some of the stray signals in the area around it to convert them into information and power to run itself. This will affect the data which the signals were carrying in the first place. That I find to be an issue. If it has a different working technique then no problem at all.
  • Rajkiran Sangoju
    Rajkiran Sangoju
    if this technology develops to a wider range then atleast we will get rid of the chargers 😉
    And can we get the pdf of this as mentioned in the post,so that atleast we can understand in elaborate way😀

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