Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a technology that can make wireless communication out of nothing at all. Called ‘ambient backscatter communication’, the technology leverages existing TV and cellular transmissions for power and communications.
Ambient backscatter enables two battery-free devices to communicate by backscattering existing wireless signals. Backscatter communication is orders of magnitude more power-efficient than traditional radio communication, says the researchers. Also, since it leverages ambient RF signals that are already around us, it does not require a dedicated power infrastructure as in RFID.
You can find a white paper on ambient backscatter here.
[Image courtesy: University of Washington]