Wi-Fi now a power source as camera powered by internet signal

8 Jun 2015

Potentially having an impact on the future of the internet of things (IoT), a team of researchers has provided research findings showing that it was able to power a security camera using only the ambient Wi-Fi signals in a general area.

Having published its findings online under the title Powering the next billion devices with Wi-Fi, the team from the university of Washington called its method ‘Power-over-Wi-Fi’.

From its research, the prevalence of Wi-Fi signals in the world today leaves much ambient energy being created with no outlet, but it has enough power to run a range of low-energy devices that could make up future IoT infrastructure.

According to the BBC, however, it took some fine-tuning to make it a feasible concept after the team realised the challenges that exist given Wi-Fi data is sent in bursts, which would prove challenging to power a device.

With the team’s method, a Wi-Fi hotspot would be modified so that when a router was not transmitting data during these burst downtimes, it would emit the equivalent of ‘noise’, which would keep its energy transmission consistent throughout.

Testing the process on both a regular surveillance camera and a temperature sensor, the team found that it could power the sensor from more than six metres away from the signal without a battery and was able to beam back 174 x 144p black and white images remotely from a distance of five metres, all with the power of Wi-Fi.

However, before it can begin to be rolled out, its interference with other Wi-Fi signals would need to be worked out by future Wi-Fi routers, but it is a problem that could be solved by future generations of routers.

CCTV camera image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic