A new ultra-low power Wi-Fi radio transmission system was developed by a group of electrical engineers at the University of California at San Diego.
The new chip could allow wearable or smart devices connected to the grid that consume much less power or even work without recharging the battery.
Smaller than a grain of rice, the chip contains a device to communicate with Wi-Fi networks that needs 5000 times less power than today’s Wi-Fi devices consuming only 28 microwatts.
It can transmit up to a speed of two megabits per second and up to a distance of 21 meters.
“You can connect your phone, smart devices, even small cameras or various sensors to this chip and send data directly from these devices to a Wi-Fi access point near you. You don’t need to buy anything else. And it could last for years with a single button battery,” says Dinesh Bharadia, professor of electrical engineering and one of the authors of the project.
Wi-Fi radio devices currently consume hundreds of milliwatts, and this is one of the biggest obstacles to the spread of the so-called “Internet of Things”. Wi-Fi devices of this kind, in fact, require large batteries, batteries that also need to be recharged periodically.
This new Wi-Fi device consumes so little power that a single device, perhaps the price of a few euros, could last for years, which opens the door to devices that basically do not need rechargeable batteries.
The researchers have improved a technology previously developed by Bharadia that uses a sort of “alarm clock”: the Wi-Fi chip only works when it is needed; it can communicate only when it is actually needed to communicate and can remain in suspension, in a very low power state, for the rest of the time.