The University of Washington and TU-Delft in Netherlands have a new research initiative which involves the creation of a microprocessor which will power it using stray radio waves. It will also receive programmable updates in a similar fashion. This project is supported by NSF Grant and Intel Corporation, Disney Corporation and Google Faculty Research Awards program. This project fully open source and all the info can be checked on wiki.
The CPU of this project is weak in comparison with today’s standard, yet more powerful in the range of devices using ambient energy without any battery. Thus making it applicable for IoT and ambient computing. Wireless Identification Sensing Platform(WISP) is a major element involved in this breakthrough. The WISP5 to be precise. WISP came as an Intel Labs project 10 years ago. The power consumption for read/write operations was a critical problem for this programmable device.
TU-Delft team observed that much work has not been done in the implementation of downstream communications amidst the read device and tag. Reprogramming these devices on the fly is a vital part of the project.
The TU-Delft team in their abstract proposed ‘Wisent’. It is a robust downstream protocol which is used for communication in CRFIDs. Its ability to adaptively alter the length of the frame sent by the reader is used to minimize the time for transfer as the channel conditions vary. It allows 16 times faster than a baseline
Sending data to a device which might be powered for short period of time is a major challenge which the TU-Delft team accomplished. (Running on ambient power is the whole point of WISP5) FVRAM requires less energy per bit as compared to NVRAM. It is quicker too. The distance is a major factor which needs to be considered. Tests have been carried out in the ranges of twenty to sixty centimeters.
Sensors with this capability can help us in tracking the temperature or data from the accelerometer and transmitting it to the reader. This being done periodically. Detection of damaged buildings in earthquakes, battery free implants for monitoring health and its use in agricultural industry for plant monitoring can help us do things better.
In Automotive this can prove very effective for Tire Pressure Management System and other low data rate and less safety critical applications, yet this is much early to anticipate the outcome of this project as commercially viable, but as always automotive can prove as an early adopter due to excessive competition and large customer base.