Scientists Invent IoT Plastic Chips That Work Without Electricity
Researchers have developed 3D printed plastic chips that can communicate with smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices without electricity.
When talking about the Internet of Things, technologists often overlook the need for a power source or additional electronics to collect, exchange and process data. The fact that many objects to be connected to are made of plastic and do not have built-in computing components.
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To tackle this problem, a team at the University of Washington has 3D printed plastic chips that transmit their bits by reflecting or not reflecting signals from a Wi-Fi router. Mobile devices can interact with this type of backscatter by modulating the signal’s reflection in space.
To create such wireless devices, scientists have integrated composite plastic fiber materials with the addition of copper and graphene filings into a single computing circuit that acts as an antenna. The circuit consists of a gear that encodes the traditional bits (0 and 1) with or without a tooth.
As examples, they made a non-electronic music volume control, a button to automatically order detergent from an online store when a bottle is empty, and a sensor that sends an alarm to the phone when a water leak is detected. Similar solutions can be used in medical applications, for example, to monitor drug consumption or shelf life.
We also previously reported on the invention of a circuit that generates pure, limitless energy from the thermal motion of graphene at room temperature.
, University of Washington