Wi-Fi powering devices named one of the year’s game-changing technologies

Nov 19, 2015

University of Washington engineers have developed a novel technology that uses a Wi-Fi router — a source of ubiquitous but untapped energy in indoor environments — to power devices.

The Power Over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi) system is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science, which included it in the magazine’s annual “Best of What’s New 2015” awards announced Wednesday.

The technology made headlines earlier this year when researchers published an online paper showing how they harvested energy from Wi-Fi signals to power a simple temperature sensor, a low-resolution grayscale camera and a charger for a Jawbone activity tracking bracelet.

The final paper will be presented in December at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CoNEXT 2015 conference in Heidelberg, Germany, on emerging networking experiments and technologies.

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6 comments on “Wi-Fi powering devices named one of the year’s game-changing technologies

  • Excuse me for displaying a little Aussie pride. WIFI. A serendipitous invention that fell out of pure science. Some Australian astronomers where trying to extract data from some very weak signals. They developed an algorithm that assisted them. It was realised that this algorithm would work to filter very weak radio signals that was then put to use as WIFI in computing. (Short version)

    The Australian radio-astronomer Dr John O’Sullivan with his colleagues Dr Terrence Percival AM, Mr Graham Daniels, Mr Diet Ostry, Mr John Deane[4] developed a key patent used in Wi-Fi as a by-product of a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research project, “a failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle”.[5] In 1992 and 1996, CSIRO obtained patents[6] for a method later used in Wi-Fi to “unsmear” the signal.[7]


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  • But not all of Tesla’s futuristic visions came to fruition. Some of
    the inventor’s most far-out and ambitious dreams went unrealized, such
    as his vision for the wireless transmission of energy.


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  • Thanks David, an interesting article. The discovery of WiFi made me think of a sketch my the Cornish comedian Jethro: “After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, Australian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

    Not to be outdone by the Aussies, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet and, shortly after, a report was published in the New York Times: “American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the Australians”.

    One week later, the Council in Cornwall reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 feet in Falmouth, Denzil Penberthy a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he had found absolutely bugger all. Penberthy has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Cornwall had already gone wireless.

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  • There’s now so many WiFi devices in a typical apartment unit that there can be literally hundreds of WiFi sources left, right, centre, above, and below. Health desperate new-ager refugees escaping infrasound poisoning near wind farms will again be forced to migrate elsewhere for a place safe enough to smoke their organic tobacco and other substances.

    What might be lucrative is to market a fully organic vegan-certified WiFi anti-dote that protects from harmful radiation. Maybe an upgraded version of the tin-foil hat, except with an organic foil. Perhaps using positrons to avoid the negative influence of electrons.

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