New Wi-Fi System Could Use 10,000 Times Less Energy

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Scientists have found a way to reduce the amount of energy consumption for a wi-fi connection down to levels used by a Bluetooth connection, according to

The concept, which has been around for some time but has yet to be proven until now, focuses on consuming at its best 10,000 times less energy than typical wi-fi systems.

Researchers at the University of Washington are behind the discovery, which incorporates a re-imagining of how radios work. Radio transmissions include both an analog and digital stream. By separating the two functions out, the more energy efficient digital signal isn’t bogged down by the energy-draining analog one.

Those involved with the project at the University of Washington report successfully testing the method on campus.

It works by plugging a single device into the wall that sends analog waves to special wi-fi sensors, which require very little energy. Those sensors pick up on the waves, reflect them with a digital switch—creating what are called “wi-fi packets.” The packet, which cna communicate with devices up to 100 feet away, finally send low-energy internet connections to phones and routers, among other things, at up to 11 megabits a second.

The full results of the study, funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Washington, and Qualcomm, will be shared with attendees of the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

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