A Wi-Fi Reflector Chip To Speed Up Wearables

A Wi-Fi Reflector Chip To Speed Up Wearables image
August 4, 2015 | Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"...they achieved a data transfer rate of 330 megabits per second, which is about three times the current Wi-Fi rate, using about a thousand times less power than a regular Wi-Fi link...You can send a video in a couple of seconds, but you don't consume the energy of the wearable device."

Whether you're tracking your steps, monitoring your health or sending photos from a smart watch, you want the battery life of your wearable device to last as long as possible. If the power necessary to transmit and receive information from a wearable to a computer, cellular or Wi-Fi network were reduced, you could get a lot more mileage out of the technology you're wearing before having to recharge it.

Adrian Tang of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is working on a technology to do just that. He and M.C. Frank Chang at the University of California, Los Angeles, have been working on microchips for wearable devices that reflect wireless signals instead of using regular transmitters and receivers. Their solution transmits information up to three times faster than regular Wi-Fi.

"The idea is if the wearable device only needs to reflect the Wi-Fi signal from a router or cell tower, instead of generate it, the power consumption can go way down (and the battery life can go way up)," Tang said.