U Washington Researchers Develop Energy-Efficient Wi-Fi

By Leila Meyer, Campus Technology

A team of computer scientists and electrical engineers at the University of Washington has developed a passive Wi-Fi system that can generate 802.11b Wi-Fi signals using 10,000 times less power than present-day Wi-Fi and 1,000 times less power than Bluetooth Low Energy and ZigBee, according to a news release on UW’s site. Traditional Wi-Fi technology uses both digital and analog components. While the digital components are highly energy efficient, the analog ones are not. Passive Wi-Fi solves this problem by decoupling the digital and analog components of Wi-Fi transmissions, assigning the power-intensive analog functions to a single networked device that is plugged into a wall outlet. An array of sensors produces the information packets for transmission by reflecting and absorbing the signal with a digital switch, according to a news release from UW. The sensors are capable of communicating with any Wi-Fi enabled device.


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