WASHINGTON University’s assistant professor Shyam Gollakota and his grad students have created a contact lens that can connect to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The technology is said to be able to bring Internet connectivity into any object, even disposable ones.
He invented a way for devices without batteries to communicate and power themselves by recycling signals from Wi-Fi devices or radio and TV stations. The researchers built their Wi-Fi contact lens to demonstrate the potential for their technology, known as backscatter, to improve medical devices, whether cheap sensors or more complex implants.
They also built a flexible skin patch that can sense temperature and respiration, a design that could be used to monitor hospital patients. Another prototype takes the form of a concert poster that broadcasts a snippet of the band’s music over FM radio. Recent tests have shown that backscatter devices recycling the signals from a Wi-Fi router can make connections over a range of up to 1km.
Backscatter technology makes it significantly cheaper to add connectivity to a device or object. Not only does it remove the cost of a battery, but the circuitry needed to communicate in this way is simpler and cheaper than conventional radio hardware.
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