Ambient Backscatter – Wireless power and communication with no batteries


Ambient Backscatter – Wireless power and communication with no batteries

Ambient Backscatter transforms existing wireless signals into both a source of power and a communication medium. It enables two battery-free devices to communicate by backscattering existing wireless signals. Backscatter communication is orders of magnitude more power-efficient than traditional radio communication. Further, since it leverages the ambient RF signals that are already around us, it does not require a dedicated power infrastructure as in RFID.

Via Hacked Gadgets.

Check out the video after the break.

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  1. Sure, but while people are inventing cunning nanopower harvesting techniques, batteries are getting smaller and longer lived. You could embed a battery in such a device that would last:
    A. longer than the useful life of the product.
    B. longer than your confidence that the local RF infrastructure would support and not interfere with the wireless scheme
    C. longer than the spectrum regulatory environment would prevail

    Have fun digging your hardware out of the concrete when some bums decide it’s not legal anymore due to EU of FCC legexcretion!

    No criticism of the project or its team, but I don’t think the re-modulation of existing RF is all that new, either. But good work.

  2. To forecast such ubiquity with this technology requires one to gloss over some difficult technical hurdles. In particular, those dipoles are resonant at a couple usable points in the spectrum and appear to be optimized for the 902-928MHz band, where there isn’t an abundance of ambient energy from continuous broadcast sources.
    The switching from absorptive to reflective state is highly dependent on the ‘Q’ of the resonance of the antenna and this means it is quite necessarily highly frequency selective.
    What is being shown in the video is not a broadband solution. There is likely a PowerCast or similar source nearby.
    All that said, it is a nice demo, and if one is willing to accept a card-house of “ifs” this could eventually see the predicted ubiquity of application. I for one, remain somewhat skeptical of the breadth of the claims in this demo. Good luck generating funding sources with the demo!

  3. Thanks A
    Unfortunately the paper does not apply any metrics to what specifically was being done in the demo or video. I am still finding it difficult to separate the “what could be” from “what we did.” Put another way, it doesn’t seem that everything that could be done with this was actually reduced to practice in the demos in the video and it would be nice to see clearly what was and wasn’t achieved. The actual power consumption of the demo devices might be a good parameter to publish as well. The authors might benefit from the work of Dr. Zoya Popovic (U. Colorado) in the area of rectennas.
    I am inspired to experiment with this though, I think there is tremendous potential in the realm of peer to peer passive communications.

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