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Internet of Things

This tiny computer doesn’t need a battery – it traps the necessary energy from the air

Amelia Fort



We often talk about the promises that new technologies offer when it comes to revolutionizing those batteries that limit our mobile devices, but what if batteries were not necessary to power them and enhance their performance?

That is what a group of researchers from the University of Washington in collaboration with TU Delft has achieved with WISP (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform), a small computer with a sensor that does not need a battery or be connected to a current to function. Instead it makes use of a series of radio waves emitted from an RFID reader.

Applications in all types of fields

This type of system could be the future of very fashionable devices today: the WISP processor operates at a clock frequency similar to that of Fitbit’s quantizer wristbands, and as in those cases it is possible to integrate different sensors .

As Aaron Parks, one of its creators, said, “It is not going to run a video game, but it can monitor sensor data and carry out some minimal computing tasks, in addition to communicating with the outside world .”

To collect that energy backscatter (becomes backscattering ) radio waves that reach the device, and the bandwidth is very decent and is in line which offers Low Energy Bluetooth mode. The project has been underway since 2006, but this remote and wireless programming capability – to update the device’s firmware – is especially interesting.

For the creators of WISP, these devices could be interesting for segments such as construction , where it would be possible to place sensors on certain structures that would inform the state of the building or if it, for example, has been damaged by an earthquake. Also for implantable devices that would monitor the health of a patient. Now it remains to be seen, as always, if these future projects come true.