We know how important battery life is for a pretty much any device you carry around, whether it be a smartphone, laptop or handheld gaming system. One of the last things anyone wants to go through is having 5% battery life on their device when they really need to use it. But researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a way to allow mobile devices to essentially grab power from the air.
The technique is called “ambient backscatter” and is being introduced as a new form of communication that “provides connectivity between computers out of what is essentially thin air.” Ambient backscatter can be used to take existing radio frequency waves and turn them into a source of power in addition to using them as a form of communication by reflecting signals in order to exchange information.
If the technology can be used in consumer electronics, it could open up new possibilities in wearable computing and sensors as they would be able to power themselves simply by being near radio frequencies. Assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington Shyamnath Gollakota believes ambient backscatter can be commercialized in just a few years, although we’re curious to see if the technique can be used for larger batteries, such as smartphones and computers.