One of the main issues that most smartphone users face on a day to day basis is battery life, or, perhaps more accurately described as the lack there of. Whether or not battery life on your smartphone is a major problem, chances are that you, like many others, could benefit from even just a little bit more available battery power during the day. There are many factors that tie into decreasing battery life on your smartphone, but Wi-Fi is undoubtedly one of the biggest battery draining features. That might change in the future, though, thanks to a team of people at the University of Washington that have shown it's possible to generate Wi-Fi that consumes much less power. How much less power? Up to 10,000 times less, according to the team.
The team is made up of both computer scientists and electrical engineers, who are labeling this new system as "Passive Wi-Fi," and while a large decrease in power consumption compared to current Wi-Fi technologies is certainly a major breakthrough in potentially extending the longevity of battery life on smartphones in the future, it's also worth noting that Passive Wi-Fi also consumes about 1,000 times less power than that of Bluetooth Low Energy.
As described the University of Washington's Computer Science and Engineering team, a big part of how they were able to achieve such low power consumption when transmitting Wi-Fi signals is because their Passive Wi-Fi system only contains a digital baseband, when other current systems contain both a digital and analog RF. Since you would generally need the analog RF front-end to generate Wi-Fi, the team was able to get around this particular detail by having their passive Wi-Fi system mirror and reflect the continuous wave RF signal that's generated by a separate plugged in device, and then uses those reflections to create Wi-Fi packets, which are then transmitted out to devices that connect to a wireless network. The result is a lot less power being consumed to connect to that signal, which results in much less battery drain. This clearly would have some big battery saving implications for smartphones, but it would also serve as a means for low power consumption of the Internet of Things connected devices around the home, too, thus helping you consume overall less energy around the home.