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Interscatter Communication Enables First-Ever Implanted Devices, Smart Contact Lenses, Credit Cards That 'talk' Wi-Fi


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Bluetooth signals from a smartwatch (left) transmit data from a neural device that can be implanted in a patients brain (right) to a smartphone via Wi-FI.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed interscatter communication that allows brain implants, contact lenses, and small wearable devices to exchange data with smartphones, watches, and other gadgets.

Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) researchers' interscatter communication method enables brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards, and smaller wearables to exchange data with smartphones, watches, and other everyday gadgets.

The technique, to be detailed next week at the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM 2016) conference in Brazil, uses reflections to convert Bluetooth signals from nearby mobile devices into Wi-Fi transmissions over the air. The system relies only on common mobile devices to produce Wi-Fi signals that consume 10,000 times less energy than conventional techniques.

"Bluetooth devices randomize data transmissions using a process called scrambling," says UW professor Shyam Gollakota. "We figured out a way to reverse-engineer this scrambling process to send out a single tone signal from Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones and watches using a software app."

To remove the unwanted, bandwidth-hungry mirror image copy of signals created by the backscattering process, the researchers employed "single sideband backscatter," says UW doctoral student Bryce Kellogg. "That means that we can use just as much bandwidth as a Wi-Fi network and you can still have other Wi-Fi networks operate without interference," he notes.

Among the proof-of-concept demos the team built were a smart contact lens and an implantable neural recording device.

From UW Today
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