Cameras powered by Wi-Fi signals could be on their way


The future is here folks; researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have experimented enough to let us believe that someday our power-hungry cameras and other connected devices would draw their juice from the energy emitted by Wi-Fi signals. A team of researchers led by PhD student Vamsi Talla at the Sensor Systems Lab of the University have been able to beam energy from Wi-Fi signals to power a camera to click pictures. A battery-free surveillance camera was modified to draw power from Wi-Fi signals, store it, and then use it to take photographs.

The team behind this successfully executed project trusts this technique, of using Wi-Fi energy to power devices, would have ample applications including in devices that are believed to form the Internet of Things.

Researchers call their system as power-over-Wi-Fi or PoWi-Fi. During their research, the team realized that energy contained by Wi-Fi signals (omnipresent these days) came close to the voltage required by various low-power devices to operate. Until now the Wi-Fi radio broadcasts are only picked up by Wi-Fi receivers, and the energy almost goes waste; this is why Talla and team believed they could harvest this energy and use it to power a device.

It wasn’t as simple as it looked on the onset; the team realized that Wi-Fi signals are broadcasted in bursts along various frequencies, thus the required useful energy was only available irregularly. To get this fixed, researchers modified Wi-Fi routers and hotspots to broadcast noise when a particular channel was available but not transmitting data. The programming ensured the Wi-Fi signals stayed constant to power the component configured with it.

Being able to harvest consistent power from Wi-Fi signals, the researchers used the energy to run a temperature sensor and a tiny surveillance camera, which were kept a few meters from the Wi-Fi routers. The camera stored Wi-Fi signal energy in its capacitor, which prompted the camera to take a picture when it was completely charged; interestingly the camera was able to click photos every 35 minutes using nothing but Wi-Fi energy.

Via: TechnologyReview/Geek



Bharat writes about latest gadgets, toys, robots and new technologies across various platforms. In addition to reporting and reviewing new products and technologies, he spends too much time digging the internet for endless questions. He's a die-hard football fan and a big foodie who wants to host Man v. Food some day.

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