Stanford and UCLA Berkley’s engineering teams have combined forces to build a radio to be implemented into inanimate objects to receive and send information and instructions through other electronic devices. This little radio is the size of a fraction of a penny and it’s “so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna – no batteries required,” costing pennies on the dollar to be manufactured.
Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford, started this project with Ali Niknejad, director of the Wireless Research Center at UC Berkeley, back in 2011 with a goal of rethinking the entire concept of radio. “In the past when people thought about miniaturizing radios, they thought about it in terms of shrinking the size of the components,” he said. They conceptualized and built small antennae for receiving and transmitting data and added a central processor that will interpret and execute instructions. Arabian’s ideal environment for the use of these radios is one where a network of them is dispersed with an area, since the high-frequency signals are not optimized for travel. While this may seem like a drawback, it actually opens a web of connectivity and management between the Internet and smart devices. “Cheap, tiny, self-powered radio controllers are an essential requirement for the Internet of Things,” said Arbabian.
I’m excited to see this move through the stages of development and implementation into devices in the future! Imagine, we are one step closer to total immersion in the IoT!