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The Wireless Technology That May Be Powering Future Wearable Devices

September 3, 2013 - Written By Keith Myers

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years, you have at least heard about some of the latest innovations in wearable technology. SmartWatches, Smart Glasses, Smart Keyrings, Smart Health Monitors and a slew of other fitness devices are taking the world by storm and are starting to impact our daily lives in ways that we have never thought of in the past. There is only one downside to this constantly connected lifestyle and that is the limitation of batteries.

When you think of wireless power, Qi charging mats come to mind but this may not be practical as it requires a user to remove the device and place it on the mat for several hours. Thanks to the research being done by a group of students at the University of Washington, the days of us needing to plug-in our SmartWatches and Smart Glasses may be coming to an end. Thanks to a technology that they are developing dubbed “Wireless Backscattering”, they are working to transmit electric power along with the data connections that most of our devices need to actually be classified as “Smart”.

Much like computer WiFi signals, their Wireless Backscatter builds a power network over thin air thus removing the need for cables and in many cases even batteries. This breakthrough allows devices to be installed into places that you would not normally be able to install sensors often due to battery lifespan issues or difficulty of wiring. One example is embedding health sensors directly into clothing to relay your heart rate back to your mobile phone.

Another exciting use of this technology is in the peer-to-peer mobile payment industry, as demonstrated by the video above. Imagine a paper thin credit card that with the press of a button could transfer funds to a person just by holding your cards within range of each other, all of this being done offline.

The technology is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before it will replace our traditional chargers. It certainly has a lot of potential to cause a revolution in wearable technology.