Today, the biggest hurdle when it comes to designing new gadgets is Battery technology. These big, bulky things restrict the forms our smartphones, computers, and wearables can take, and unfortunately, battery technology is so stagnant that there’s no promise of things getting better any time soon.
But what if you could leave the battery out of the equation entirely. That’s just what the University of Washington’s Sensor Lab has done. Researchers there created the WISP, or Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform: a combination sensor and computing chip that doesn’t need a battery or a wired power source to operate. Instead, it sucks in radio waves emitted from a standard, off the shelf RFID reader, the same technology that retail shops use to deter shoplifters and converts them into electricity.
Surprisingly, This technique is pretty fast. It has about the same bandwidth as Bluetooth Low Energy mode, the wireless power-sipping technology which drives most Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones. That’s what gives the WISP which has been knocking around as a project since 2006 its new killer feature. it can now be reprogrammed wirelessly. So, for example, a fitness tracker running on WISP can now download a new tracking function, or be updated to fix a bug or glitch, without plugging it into anything. That’s important because it’s never been done before.