One American professor's invention is revolutionizing how we think of powering connectivity technology. At a recent EmTech MIT conference, Professor Shyam Gollakota showed a stunned audience a pair of contact lenses that had the ability to connect to Wi-Fi and smartphones without the use of batteries.
Professor Gollakota, who teaches at the University of Washington, believes that this could alter how we think about energy storage in the future. Since these contacts have no batteries, they draw all their energy through recycling waves from Wi-Fi signals, TVs, and even radios. Even more astounding, this technology could be placed in millions of disposable contact lenses without any issues.
Since we swim in a metaphorical sea of new-tech nowadays, we often forget just how many electrical currents and signals are spiraling around us. Professor Gollakota believes that if we could harness and reflect this energy for use in new medical products, it could go a long way to solving many of the energy issues humanity currently faces.
The main technology allowing these contact lenses to communicate and re-charge themselves is called backscatter. Professor Gollakota developed his own backscatter technology with his graduate students in Seattle, Washington. Gollakota and his team hope that their backscatter technology will someday be incorporated into common disposable medical devices in hospitals around the world.
A few things this team is interested in putting backscatter technology into medical scanners and implants. Professor Gollakota also believes he can devise a skin patch that will be able to track a patient's temperature, respiration, and heart rate.
Needless to say, this new technology could go a long way in helping increase the quality of patient care.
So, from how far away can these backscatters pick up Wi-Fi signals? In one study, Professor Gollakota noted that another prototype placed in a three-story house was able to recycle signals via a Wi-Fi router from a radius of one kilometer.
One of the great things about this battery-free backscatter technology is that it is extremely cheap to produce, which is great for disposable medical items. The circuitry used by Professor Gollakota is very easy to replicate, and it is far more intuitive than the radio hardware available today.
Professor Gollakota told the audience at MIT that he wants to start putting this smartphone accessible technology in billions of disposable medical devices as soon as possible. To achieve this goal, Professor Gollakota founded Jeeva Wireless. While this company is just a startup right now, Professor Gollakota said he is getting very close to a deal with a major pharmaceutical company.
Professor Gollakota couldn't talk about specifics regarding this deal yet, but he did tell the crowd that this contract concerned one of the most common disposable medical appliances on the market today. Professor Gollakota also said he would very easily reach his goal of one billion products implanted with his backscatter technology if this partnership is successful.