A collaboration effort between NASA and the University of California has seen researchers working towards a Wi-Fi chip with better signal, lower energy usage and faster transfer speeds.
The new chips, which uses 100 times less power than previous methods is the creation of Adrian Tang, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Mau-Chung Frank Chang, a professor at UCLA.
"The idea is if the wearable device only needs to reflect the Wi-Fi signal from a router or cell tower, instead of generate it, the power consumption can go way down (and the battery life can go way up)," Tang said in a statement.
The Wi-Fi chip is meant to reflect a signal sent for a router so it no longer needs to send its own unique signal as previously needed.
“Because you’re only imprinting on a Wi-Fi signal, you’re not generating it, you don’t need power,” Tang said to Popular Science.
With the lower energy there didn’t seem to be interference in the transfer rates, as lab tests have shown that they received more than average speed at 330 megabits per second.
The challenges according to Tang was figuring which signal was sent back, as the first signal sent would bounce back from every corner of the room.
“When you send a signal to the room, the whole room reflects back to you,” Tang said. “So you need to figure out what’s coming from the wearable and what’s coming from the background and get rid of the background.”
To resolve this the team developed specialized hardware that sends the initial signal and has the capacity of being able to detect the exact data reflected back.
Both parties are currently discussing with a commercial partner in the possibility of releasing the new technology to the public, with the belief that this it might also assist NASA in it’s own spacecraft communication.