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Ultra Low-Power WiFi will Enable Wearable Devices
Ultra Low-Power WiFi will Enable Wearable Devices

Researchers at JPL and UCLA have developed new WiFi technology to give wearable devices full access to the web's unlimited resources.

Left Image: WiFi antenna.

antenna module
WiFi data
Top: Reflector module for wearable and embedded devices. Bottom: Received WiFi data.

Wearable devices such as smart watches, smart clothing, and smart glasses will transform our lives in the near future. In order to do so they will need WiFi connectivity. Imagine life where your glasses could give you full access to the web’s unlimited resources, identify things you see and sounds you hear. Imagine a shirt measuring your blood pressure and sending the results to your doctor in real time. New WiFi technology will make all of this possible.

Existing WiFi uses too much power for wearable devices. JPL researchers in collaboration with UCLA have in the last two years, developed a new WiFi technology that reflects existing WiFi signals instead of generating them internally. This new technology allows wearable devices like Google Glass to send data to a computer, smart phone, or Tablet, while using 10,000 times less power.

To date JPL researchers Adrian Tang, Nacer Chahat, and Rod Kim along with UCLA faculty member Frank Chang have demonstrated reflector links up to 3 Mb/s at ranges of up to 2.5m in the laboratory. With more development, it is believed that such devices will eventually operate up to 20 meters with data rates comparable to existing WiFi connections (approx. 50 Mb/s).

This amazing technology will enable the wearable devices market, an industry expected to grow to 18 billion dollars in the US by 2018.


Nacer Chahat, PhD
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Microwave / Antenna Engineer

Adrian Tang, PhD
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
CMOS Circuit Designer

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