Regardless of what it does, every gadget you own needs a power source. Your phone needs a battery and a charger, your computer needs to be plugged into the wall, and so on. But what if you didn’t have to worry about power? Well one new gadget needs nothing more than radio waves to keep it powered.
No, you don’t need to turn on your radio to keep this thing juiced up. (Yes, I just made a bad “radio” pun, and no I’m not apologizing for it.) Using an off-the-shelf RFID transmitter, this WISP (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform) is able to get enough power from the radio waves that exist almost anywhere to keep it powered.
So what does this magical device actually do? It’s a tiny computer that’s meant to run sensors and transmit data. Right now, it’s just a barebones kit, but some of the potential uses include tracking the structural integrity of a building, to monitoring crops. It’s possible that it could even be used for tracking fitness information, much like a Fitbit. In fact, its creators liken its processing power to that of the Fitbit. While that may not seem like much, it’s actually the most powerful computer ever designed that doesn’t need a battery.
Since there’s not much room for input, the WISP can be programmed wirelessly. To communicate, it backscatters the very same radio waves that it uses for power. It uses a series of blips to transmit communications using those radio waves. No word on when the WISP will be available for purchase, or how much it will cost.