It has become effortless and lesser expensive to head from a conventional to a ‘smart home’ with newly developed technology by Canada’s university of Waterloo. The technology is in the form of battery-free Wi-Fi sensors. It can be located in a house and capable of operating off existing Wi-Fi networks.

The researchers have shown various issues that have hindered the growth of battery-free sensors earlier, which have made this technology not feasible or impractical. The past challenges encountered were concerns with security protocols, requirement to modify existing Wi-Fi access points and the whole energy required to operate the components.

Drawing the attraction of batter-free technology and emphasizing on the problems faced to develop the technology, lead researcher Professor Omid Abari explains: “If you look at the current sensor products, they need batteries, which nobody likes to have to change, but they will work with commodity WiFi.”

He adds: “There has been recent research which proposes approaches that don’t need batteries. But while they’re addressing the battery problem, they’re adding another issue; it doesn’t work with commodity WiFi devices.”

The solution from the University of Waterloo, Abari notes “combines the best of these two worlds – it is battery-free, and it works with commodity WiFi devices.”

The name given to this new technology is WiTAG and researchers affirmed that it will take the smart home sector to highway. This system will permit individuals to embrace regular WiFi devices for fetching data from smart devices. However, rather than depending on energy-hungry Wi-Fi transmitters for data collection, this technology is viable of using radio frequency signals for the power source purpose.

Using radio frequency will facilitate existing WiFi infrastructures to fetch data from the sensors, which doesn’t require sensors to be connected to the WiFi network. This will result in easier portability and deployment to the technology.

The WiTAG prototype is fully tested against the technologies like light sensors, temperature sensors and wearable fitness devices. For growing security concerns, the devices are well-monitored and applied encryption.

The technology is proposed in a working paper submitted to the Proceedings of the 17th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks. The paper is titled “WiTAG: Rethinking Backscatter Communication for WiFi Networks.”