Wireless Sensors without Batteries
By Ali Abedi, University of Maine
Wireless sensor networks have been the subject of numerous research and development activities in the past decade. Despite all this attention, their widespread eployment is yet to be reaized. The main hurdle is power consumption requirements and limited on-board battery capacities. Researchers at the University of Maine, Wireless Sensor Networks (WiSe-Net) laboratory have worked on various ways to reduce the power consumption in wireless sensors including: efficient compression and coding techniques, power optimized rouing, and cooperative relaying. All these techniques combined with coordinated sleepwake algorithms developed by other research group pushed wireless sensors toward efficiency limits with, most recently, only marginal improvements. This calls for a paradigm shift to take wireless sensors networking to the next level in order to unleash its true potential. In this article, we present a novel approach to wireless sensing in which batteries are completely eliminated from the sensor boards, while networking and multiple-access are still feasible. In this new class of battery free or passive sensors, power is emitted to all sensors using high frequency radio beams and their response is read by a sophisticated interrogating unit employing several digital signal processing techniques.
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