Ian Kar: A new kind of “passive” Wi-Fi may power the internet of things

Wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, is ubiquitous. But it consumes a lot of energy from our devices, which kills the battery life of our smartphones, smartwatches, and other smart gadgets.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington have come up with a solution they call “passive Wi-Fi.”

The invention, announced yesterday (Feb. 23), helps devices use Wi-Fi with 10,000 times less power than we normally use when we wirelessly connect to the internet. Compared to other wireless technology, like Bluetooth Low Energy connections, it is 1,000 times less power intensive. The team is presenting a paper on the discovery in March at the 13th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, and the invention is already making waves—MIT Technology Review listed it as one of the 10 breakthrough technologies of 2016.