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Chip Brings Ultra-Low-Power Wi-Fi to IoT Devices


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UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Dinesh Bharadia holds a printed circuit board; the Wi-Fi radio is mounted underneath the black blob.

A new ultra-low power Wi-Fi radio developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego enables Internet of Things devices to communicate with existing Wi-Fi networks using 5,000 times less power than todays Wi-Fi radios.

Credit: UC San Diego News Center

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have developed an ultra-low-power Wi-Fi radio that enables Internet of Things (IoT) devices to communicate with existing Wi-Fi networks using 5,000 times less power than conventional Wi-Fi.

The new device, housed in a chip smaller than a grain of rice, consumes just 28 microwatts of power while transmitting data at a rate of two megabits per second over a range of up to 21 meters.

The Wi-Fi radio transmits data via backscattering—a technique that takes incoming Wi-Fi signals, modifies the signals, and encodes its own data onto them, before reflecting the new signals onto a different Wi-Fi channel to another device or access point.

UCSD’s Dinesh Bharadia said, “You can connect your phone, your smart devices, even small cameras or various sensors to this chip, and it can directly send data 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 on a single coin-cell battery.”

From UC San Diego News Center
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