Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware

This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Thin Air (fastcodesign.com) 60

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fast Co Design (edited and condensed for clarity): Researchers at University of Washington's Sensor Lab have created the WISP, or Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform: a combination sensor and computing chip that doesn't need a battery or a wired power source to operate. Instead, it sucks in radio waves emitted from a standard, off-the-shelf RFID reader -- the same technology that retail shops use to deter shoplifters -- and converts them into electricity. The WISP isn't designed to compete with the chips in your smartphone or your laptop. It has about the same clock speed as the processor in a Fitbit and similar functionality, including embedded accelerometers and temperature sensors. [...] It has about the same bandwidth as Bluetooth Low Energy mode, the wireless power-sipping technology which drives most Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Thin Air

Comments Filter:
  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @09:42AM (#51977451)
    RFID tags use the energy from the reader to provide a RF response. This seemingly useless project is not exactly some breakthrough.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      RFID tags are boring. Now we have an awesome tech with no use case, and that's something to get excited about!

      But think of the possibilities -- you can be walking down the street, battery-less wristwatch, LED earrings, and backpack embedded speaker, while holding your RFID reader that you wave all over like spraying electricity on your gadgets (and inefficiently also in between and around your gadgets)

      Can't wait for that future!

      • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these! You could power an LED with them! Eventually the technology will scale, and we can clean up our EM pollution. Its win-win for the environment!

    • A good first step. Given the amount of energy available from natural, and synthetic sources. Maybe those that are looking for funding could consider other energy storage solutions?
    • Not a breakthrough but certainly doing something that should have been done years ago. Though RFID gets it's energy via radio we haven't had any CPU's that do it. This could power the equivalent of a fitbit without charging or a battery and that is at least new. It should have been done years ago.

      There is so much RF energy out there in the WIFI spectrum I'm surprised it's taken this long to get a wifi powered CPU even if it has minuscule computing power. Afterall the arudino isn't going to win any compute c

      • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @02:21PM (#51978707)

        This could power the equivalent of a fitbit without charging or a battery and that is at least new. It should have been done years ago.

        Probably not, unless you want to carry a RFID transmitter in your other hand.

        There is so much RF energy out there in the WIFI spectrum

        No there isn't. At a reasonable distance from an access point, you may get something like -70dBm, which is 100 picoWatt. Running something like an Arduino at low speed takes 1milliWatt, or 10 million times as much.

        • Yea, your right. You couldn't draw enough power from a single AP in a perfect conditions. Now if you could figure out how to reduce the numbers of APs so you could actually prove that.

    • Yes of course, even the summary explains that this is based on RFID tag technology. What's new here is the end-user programmability of these chips to do things OTHER than just respond with a fixed ID.

      Arduino and Raspberry Pi aren't interesting because they do something new. They are limited in power and capabilities. What they do deliver is a significant amount of computing power at a very low cost and very small size.

      While I don't see RFID-powered computers taking over the smarphone space, I do see the

      • The summary and article imply that using power from the RFID reader is something new. It simply isn't. And neither are low powered sensors.

        So, you see the potential for things you haven't thought of? OK.
    • RFID tags use the energy from the reader to provide a RF response. This seemingly useless project is not exactly some breakthrough.

      Yes.

      Further, don't forget that battery-less AM radio from Heath-Kit (TM) that you built in the 1970s.

      Also, Tesla's "wireless electricity distribution system" – from long before any of us were born.

  • "Air" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2016 @09:43AM (#51977459)

    This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Radio Waves

    Fixed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Radio Waves

      Fixed.

      Yes. It is important to note that this technology will work in a total vacuum, which is the amount of information contained in the article.

    • This Battery-Free Antenna Receives Power From Radio Waves

      Even more fixed

  • Not to be confused with WISP or wireless Internet service provider.

    • White Irish Saxon Protestant?? -- Yes, the disable adverts is broken. Fix it whipslash!!
      • Those aren't adverts, they're targeted links. Totally different thing.

        • When I check the box it says ok and disables them. The screen refreshes and ads are gone. THEN when I click ANYTHING on the page the screen refreshes with ads and the box UNCHECKED. I know the difference between them. I'm a 300 baud kind of guy.
  • by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @10:11AM (#51977535)
    Someone's looking for funding. Stay away, as this technology is no where near being useful.
    • Now that you have your checkbooks out, you may be interested in this energy collection breakthrough we're working on over here at Slow Co Design:

      we are literally pulling energy out of thin air by mimicking plants.

      Using light ray collectors that harness the sun's energy, we hope to transform tomorrow by revolutionizing energy collection today.

      • Hah, you think that's impressive, wait till you see my breakthrough for extracting energy out of thick air.
        • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
          Hey, I have a patented rotating device that extracts energy from the pressure gradient between thick and thin air.
    • I suspect "useful" somewhat depends on what you want to use it for....
    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Someone's looking for funding. Stay away, as this technology is no where near being useful.

      Seriously? This work, and the previous work by the same U.W. lab, look to me like one of the most exciting future developments.

      Maybe I'm just too excited from the sci-fi books I read where they have "motes", tiny little sensors all over a room or building or landscape, that pick up anything and everything. We're not going to power those things with batteries. Every single one will have to harvest what it can from radio waves, eke out enough to do a small amount of computing, and crucially get a "free" way t

  • Gotta love the headline for a new device with the word "sucks" in it.
  • This is like you putting stadium lighting in your living room to use a solar cell to charge your phone.

    For those who care, this requires the widget to be in the main beam of a transmitter belching out 900 MHz (or lower, or higher) radio waves at sufficient power to be useful. See FCC Part 18 for details. I'd rather be on the back side of that antenna than living in the beam.

    • The maximum transmitter power is just a few Watts, of which only a small portion is absorbed by your body and turned into heat. Compared to the 75 Watts your body generates itself, it's not going to be noticeable.
  • They had me at sucks.

  • If the RF transmitter uses several watts of power to put RF energy over a large volume of space and the device (or even multiple devices) uses only milli watts (micro watts?) it sounds like a terribly inefficient use of energy. If one is walking around with these things and no transmitter is nearby, they won't work and if no one is near a transmitter with one of these things it's just wasted use of energy. Even if they're in a fixed position there's a lot of waste. Batteries are are pretty useful as is plug
    • I can see where this could be useful if you stick a bunch of these devices on a bridge, and then drive over them with a scanner, reading something like stress forces from each one. Or maybe a cooled transport, where you can check the temperature of each passing item. A big limitation, however, is still that the device isn't working when there's no transmitter nearby, so you could only measure immediate sensor values.
  • "Researchers .. have created the WISP .. it sucks in radio waves emitted from a standard, off-the-shelf RFID reader .. and converts them into electricity.

    Similarly to how a crystal set works, that uses the ambient RF field to power itself, as invented around 1900. And it doesn't 'suck' anything out of the air, it absorbs rf energy through electro-magnetic induction. ref [arrl.org]
  • I bought a couple of these early last year. Computers that are powered over nfc are common place. It's just a contactless smartcard *yawn*

  • And Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart are looking for him.

  • And that's how he powered his Pierce Arrow car.

    All you need is somebody to transmit the power to you, for free.

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." - Voltaire

Working...