Advances in wireless connections follow its course with the aim of providing more efficient links with low energy consumption. Within this section, Bluetooth is the one who has taken the lead in consumption, not so in bandwidth and reach, so WiFi remains one of the most solid and versatile connections for a large number of uses.
The biggest problem facing WiFi is precisely its high power consumption, something that directly affects devices that use rechargeable batteries, as their autonomy is depleted by receiving and transmitting information at all times. This could change in the future thanks to new project dubbed ‘WiFi liabilities’, which need to ensure a minimal amount of energy to operate.
A group of researchers at the University of Washington has developed an interesting project with funding from the National Science Foundation and Qualcomm, which seeks to make more efficient the WiFi especially on mobile devices and within the Internet of Things.
The new system known as ‘Passive WiFi’ was introduced at the beginning of this 2016, but it is until now that they have been able to carry out the first tests with satisfactory results. This has been demonstrated that this connection consumes between 15 and 60 microwatts (up to 10,000 times less energy than conventional methods), which means 1,000 times less energy than platforms like Bluetooth and Zigbee LR.
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One of the disadvantages is that by reducing energy consumption also bandwidth decreases, in a maximum of 11 Mbps, remaining below the capabilities offered WiFi but above what we have with Bluetooth LE, as well The Passive WiFi is able to transmit information at a maximum distance of 30.5 meters.
The current architecture of WiFi is based on digital and analog functions, the latter being the ones that consume more energy, such as being emitted a frequency signal. What makes this new system is that it separates the digital functions and relegates analog to a single device connected to the electric current.
On the other hand, devices that will use this connection, such as smartphones, will use an array of sensors that will serve to decode the data packets by means of a digital switch. According to its creators, this is compatible with the vast majority of mobile devices that exist in the market today.
Note that this project is still in development stage, so still need a few years to really make it, plus you have to go through certifications and approvals by various regulatory agencies. The project will be presented in more detail in March 2017 during the USENIX Symposium, where we expect to have new advances in this technology.