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IIT Mandi team builds wireless tech to remotely power IoT applications

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi on Thursday said they have built wireless powering and communication technology designed to aid futuristic Internet of Things (IoT) applications remotely.

The new tech can help remotely power, in addition to IoT devices, applications such as battery-free wireless cameras, wireless monitors, sensors, skin-attachable sensing platforms, contact lenses, machine-to-machine communication, and human-to-machine interactions, the institute said.

The IoT is a collection of objects (“things”) that can exchange data with each other through the Internet. IoT devices range from ordinary household appliances in a “smart” home to sophisticated industrial and scientific tools.

These smart things are equipped with sensors, chips, and software that must be powered and stay in communication with other devices at all times.

Simplistic power sources such as batteries may be unsuitable for such applications because of the constancy of power required, and because some of these “things” may be embedded or hidden, which makes changing batteries difficult.

There is, thus, worldwide research in combining remote communication technology with remote powering options.

The IIT Mandi team performed research on two such powering options – radio frequency energy harvesting (RF-EH) and backscatter communication.”We have developed a cooperative model, in which, backscatter communication and RF-EH devices act together to optimally allocate the resources such as time and antenna weights,” said Shivam Gujral, from the varsity’s School of Computing and Electrical Engineering, in a statement.

In RF-EH, energy is transmitted by a dedicated transmitter to the IoT device through radio waves, the same kind of waves that are used in mobile phones for communication.

In backscatter communication, as before, power is transmitted via radio waves, but with/without the need for a dedicated transmitter.

Instead, RF signals available in the vicinity, such as WiFi, cell phone signals, etc, are harnessed through reflection and backscatter to power the IoT objects.

“We used a dedicated power transmitter for the two devices, in which the backscatter device transferred information through a monostatic configuration and the RFEH device through the HTT protocol,” said Dr. Siddhartha Sarma, Assistant Professor, IIT Mandi.

The findings of this study were published in the Wireless Networks.

Researchers now plan to implement the joint radiofrequency energy harvesting-backscatter communication system in real-time to analyze system performance. This would include working on the hardware aspects of the two complementary technologies, they noted. Free Press Journal

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