Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and National Science Foundation Fund Creation of Battery-Free HD Video Streaming Technology
Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a new HD video streaming method that doesn’t need to be plugged in. Their prototype skips the power-hungry parts and has something else, like a smartphone, process the video instead.
They do this using a technique called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it.
“The fundamental assumption people have made so far is that backscatter can be used only for low-data rate sensors such as temperature sensors,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “This work breaks that assumption and shows that backscatter can indeed support even full HD video.”
In today’s streaming cameras, the camera first processes and compresses the video before it is transmitted via Wi-Fi. These processing and communication components eat a lot of power, especially with HD videos. As a result, a lightweight streaming camera that doesn’t need large batteries or a power source has been out of reach. The UW team developed a new system that eliminates all of these components. Instead, the pixels in the camera are directly connected to the antenna, and it sends intensity values via backscatter to a nearby smartphone. The phone, which doesn’t have the same size and weight restrictions as a small streaming camera, can process the video instead....