A team of engineers from the University of Washington has developed a new Wi-Fi signal transmission technology that uses 10, 000 times less energy than conventional methods. This invention extends the battery life of mobile gadgets many times over and can be used with any of the existing routers and smartphones.
A standard Wi-Fi signal transmits information simultaneously in digital format and on an analog radio frequency. While digital transmission technologies have come a long way over the past few decades, devices using analog frequencies still consume hundreds of milliwatts of power.
The development of the Washington-based team separates the digital and analog signal components and transmits them to a small device that connects to a smartphone. This module generates a Wi-Fi signal using an array of sensors. This outgoing signal is then reflected from the surrounding objects and received using the so-called "passive Wi-Fi" technology, which practically eliminates energy consumption.
Passive Wi-Fi enables wireless communication at a distance of up to 30 meters, consuming only 15-60 microwatts of energy - 10, 000 times less than existing devices.
Details of the new technology will be announced in March 2017 at the USENIX Symposium. Meanwhile, the development of the University of Washington team has already made it to the list of 10 Most Disruptive Technologies of 2016 according to the MIT Technology Review magazine.