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This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out of Thin Air


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The Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform.

The Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform is a combination sensor and computing chip that harvests radio waves and converts them into electricity.

Credit: FastCoDesign

Researchers from the University of Washington have created the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform (WISP), a combination sensor and computing chip that can operate without a battery or a wired power source.

WISP is designed to receive radio waves emitted from a standard, off-the-shelf radio-frequency identification reader and convert them into electricity. WISP has about the same clock speed as the processor in a Fitbit and similar functionality, including embedded accelerometers and temperature sensors.

The technology can track sensor data, perform some minimal processing tasks, and communicate with the outside world, says researcher Aaron Parks in the University of Washington's Sensor Lab. He notes WISP has the same bandwidth as Bluetooth Low Energy mode.

Parks say there are other battery-free computer chips, but they are very slow, and are not remotely reprogrammable and not as powerful.

The researchers note the technology is a long way from wirelessly powering smartphones and laptops, but it could be used to detect cracks in concrete structures or monitor plants and patients' health. They also say WISP could be used to give objects a level of intelligence and fully realize the Internet of Things.

From FastCoDesign
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