A team of engineers from the University of Washington has developed a new technology for transmitting a Wi-Fi signal, which consumes 10,000 times less energy than conventional methods. This invention repeatedly extends the life of mobile gadget batteries and can be used with any of the existing routers and smartphones.
A standard Wi-Fi signal transmits information simultaneously in digital format and on an analog radio frequency. While digital transmission technologies have come a long way in the past few decades, devices using analog frequencies still consume hundreds of milliwatts of energy.
The development of the Washington team separates the digital and analog components of the signal and passes them to a small device that connects to the smartphone. This module generates a Wi-Fi signal using an array of sensors. Then this outgoing signal is reflected from surrounding objects and is adopted with the help of the so-called “passive Wi-Fi” technology, which allows to virtually eliminate energy costs.
Passive Wi-Fi provides wireless communication at a distance of up to 30 meters, consuming only 15-60 microwatts of energy – 10,000 times less than existing devices.
Details of the new technology will be announced in March 2017 at the USENIX Symposium. Meanwhile, the development of the team at the University of Washington has already fallen into the list of the 10 most breakthrough technologies in 2016, according to the MIT Technology Review.