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A New Kind of Wi-Fi That Uses 10,000 Times Less Power
Scientists have come up with a way of connecting to wi-fi that requires even less energy than a Bluetooth connection. It is not an open source technology yet, but a nice promise for the upcoming IoT hyper-connected world!
It’s a system called “passive wi-fi,” which aims to consume at least 1,000 less power than typical wi-fi portals, including Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee. As an idea, it’s been around for a while—but this is the first time it’s been proven. At top performance, this new wi-fi system can actually use 10,000 times less energy than usual.
How’d they do it? Scientists at the University of Washington reimagined how radios work. Radio transmissions involve two operations: digital and analog. Over the last couple decades, the digital part has become much more energy efficient, but analog remains a nasty energy drain. So the team simply separates the two functions.First, a single device plugged into a wall—this part uses most of the power in this whole process—sends analog waves to special passive wi-fi sensors. These sensors require practically no energy to run. They then pick up those waves, reflecting them with a digital switch, which creates what the team calls “wi-fi packets.” Those beam low-energy internet at bit rates of up to 11 megabits per second to devices like phones, routers, and more.