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Ambient backscatter promises battery-free communications
University of Washington created a wireless communication system that allows devices to interact by harvesting power from the environment..
See the complete paper here: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Journals/2013/08/14/u/g/g/comm153-liu.pdf
Using so-called ambient backscatter, these devices can reportedly interact with users and communicate with each other without using batteries because they exchange information by reflecting or absorbing pre-existing radio signals from TV and cellular transmissions.
The researchers have built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which then is picked up by other similar devices.