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

UC San Diego Jacobs School of EngineeringMore
the University of California San Diego
the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
Commercial Wi-Fi
Google Home
Wi-Fi channel
Commodity WiFi Transceivers
Liezel Labios
UC San Diego’s

David Baillot
Dinesh Bharadia
Patrick Mercier
Rohit Kumar
Manideep Dunna
Po-Han Peter Wang
Chi Zhang
Hongsen Yang
Liezel Labios
Gilman Dr.


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This could unleash smaller, fully wireless IoT setups,” said UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Patrick Mercier, who co-led the work with Bharadia.Think a portable Google Home device that you can take around the house and can last for years instead of just hours when unplugged.“It could also allow you to connect devices that are not currently connected—things that cannot meet the power demands of current Wi-Fi radios, like a smoke alarm—and not have a huge burden on battery replacement,” Mercier said.The Wi-Fi radio runs on extremely low power by transmitting data via a technique called backscattering. This “wakes up” the Wi-Fi radio only when it needs to communicate with Wi-Fi signals, so it can stay in low-power sleep mode the rest of the time, during which it consumes only 3 microwatts of power.Bharadia (center), with graduate student researchers Rohit Kumar (left) and Manideep Dunna (right), displaying a setup in which the Wi-Fi radio would be backscattering between two Wi-Fi compatible devices.The UC San Diego team’s improvements to the technology also feature a custom integrated circuit for backscattering data, which makes the whole system smaller and more efficient, and thus enables their Wi-Fi radio to operate over longer communication range (21 meters).

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