Tuesday, 27 September 2016

'Interscatter communication' helps implanted devices communicate via Wi-Fi

Using what’s called “interscatter communication,” small devices such as brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards and wearables can talk to other devices like smartphones and watches. University of Washington researchers have developed a way for these small devices to communicate using Bluetooth signals that convert into Wi-Fi transmissions.

“Wireless connectivity for implanted devices can transform how we manage chronic diseases,” said co-author Vikram Iyer, a UW electrical engineering doctoral student, in a report on the tech. “For example, a contact lens could monitor a diabetic’s blood sugar level in tears and send notifications to the phone when the blood sugar level goes down.”

These types of devices tend to be too small, or located in an area that limits the use of conventional wireless transmission. UW engineers and computer scientists have found a way, however, to use standard Wi-Fi transmission so these devices can communicate, without the need for any specialized equipment.

“Instead of generating Wi-Fi signals on your own, our technology creates Wi-Fi by using Bluetooth transmissions from nearby mobile devices such as smartwatches,” said co-author Vamsi Talla in the report. The technique they use for the process is called “backscatter.” Devices are able to exchange info by reflecting existing signals. The team is calling the process--which uses Bluetooth signals to create Wi-Fi transmissions--“interscatter,” as it enables inter-technology communication.

Mobile devices like smartphones or laptops serve as both sources and receivers for reflected signals. The report gives an example of the process using a smartwatch and a smart contact lens.
“Interscatter can enable Wi-Fi for these implanted devices while consuming only tens of microwatts of power”

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