Electricity Free Smart Devices: It May Be Sooner Than We Think

Engineers are working on a way to use radio frequencies instead of electricity to power wireless connectivity. The implications of electricity free smart devices are many:

• Battery free smart devices

• Energy conservation

• Easy to use/wear monitoring devices

A whole new world may not be that far away. Cheap power and ease of connectivity seem to be the only things that have kept various smart devices from becoming mainstream. After all, how many devices can we charge every night? It can be tedious but it is worse if we forget. Furthermore, how many locations just don’t have a power source nearby when we need to recharge one of these devices?

The elegance of charging by radio frequencies lies in how engineers are intending to provide the power to these battery-free devices. The plan is to make use of a resource that already exists and is ubiquitous. Various radio frequencies, wireless signals, and television signals are everywhere. The idea is to harness this power, and provide this to the battery-free devices.

The main issue is that these signals don’t provide enough power on their own. They only give off about a third of the power that is needed by many wearable smart devices and other Wi-Fi devices. How do they intend to overcome this problem? Currently, the answer is to use antennas to boost the signal. The antennas are small enough to fit inside a clothing tag, are lightweight, and don’t require charging or replacing like a battery.

The idea has been tested and the battery-free device was able to transmit data (albeit slowly) for several feet. The next step is to increase speeds and transmission ranges. Imagine being able to read email without having to pick up your phone because one of your electricity free smart devices, for example a smart watch, transfers the email automatically. Imagine having the stats from your morning run waiting in a spreadsheet when you get home, along with all the other runs from this month. These are just a couple of small examples of what battery free Wi-Fi could mean.