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June 08, 2015

Researchers Finding Success With Powering Small Devices Using Wi-Fi Signals

The University of Washington has found a way to use Wi-Fi signals in order to charge devices in what may prove to be a huge breakthrough for the wearable tech market, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Specifically, the researchers have managed to charge a Jawbone Up24 fitness tracker using ordinary Wi-Fi. The group first noticed that regular, ambient Wi-Fi was strong enough to power some smaller devices but not for very long and only in tiny bursts. These same researchers figured out a way to solve this problem by adding “noise” to the signal that allowed them to keep the power levels steady.

Using the new signal, which the group dubbed PoWi-Fi, they were able to run a low powered surveillance camera and temperature sensor as much as 20 feet away from the Wi-Fi antenna. Apparently feeling empowered by these experiments, the researchers ramped up their efforts. The team found, according to Engadget, that adding a rechargeable battery added a few feet to the reach of the Wi-Fi power signal and it could even go through obstacles like a brick wall. The final step in these particular experiments found that they could power the Up24 to 41 percent total charge in 2.5 hours.

Certainly that finding means that charging through a Wi-Fi signal, even a modified signal is not yet something that is ideal. The fact that it can be done at all does seem to make things interesting when it comes to connected devices on the Internet of Things. Right now, the connection point and the charging points are two entirely different entities. It seems that this research has laid out clearly that at some point, devices that are using M2M technology won’t need to be plugged into anything other than the Web itself.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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