Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • We live in an ever-more interconnected world.

  • Homes today can have thermostats, TVs, computers, phones, refrigerators, and light bulbs all on the same WiFi network.

  • But all of these devices required a power source like a battery or a wall outlet.

  • Until researchers at the University of Washington have figured out a way to 3D print devices that can use WiFi to communicate

  • with other devices like smartphones, without the need for batteries or electronics.

  • The trick is the devices the researchers created relied on ambient WiFi signals,

  • the electromagnetic waves your modem is always emitting.

  • This technique is what's known as WiFi backscattering.

  • Instead of sending its own signal, the devices used an antenna to reflect these waves and talk to other receivers.

  • The antenna was made using a 3D printer and consists of composite plastics which are conductive

  • thanks to copper and graphene filings.

  • But just making an antenna to reflect ambient WiFi wasn't enough;

  • the researchers needed a way to modulate the reflected waves and encode information.

  • Once again, 3D printing was their answer.

  • A switch was attached to a spiral shaped spring, and a gear pressed against the spring.

  • When the gear spun, it forced the switch to rapidly make and break contact with the antenna,

  • quickly changing the amplitude of the reflected signal.

  • The spikes and troughs in the signal can be used to represent 1s and 0s, and voila,

  • a 3D printed Wi-Fi device that uses mechanical motion instead of electricity.

  • Something like this could have a huge range of applications,

  • so long as whatever it's attached to is providing that movement of the gear in some way.

  • For example, it could be connected to a flow meter where moving water or another liquid causes the gear to spin.

  • The students used the example of something attached to a detergent bottle that detects when the bottle is running low

  • and automatically signals your smartphone to order another one.

  • If you're not into the idea of a brand of detergent automatically restocking itself ad infinitum,

  • the flow meter could help keep your home secure.

  • It could be used to detect if a pipe springs a leak and alert you before the water does serious and expensive damage.

  • And because the flow meter wouldn't require batteries that need to be changed, that's one less thing to worry about.

  • The researchers' invention could also find a use in hospitals to keep drugs secure.

  • The mechanical motion of twisting the cap off a pill bottle could be used to track when the bottle is opened.

  • Even if the bottle is taken out of range of the WiFi signal, the researchers have discovered a way to store data

  • and then upload it with the push of a button when the bottle is in range again.

  • The researchers have created several widgets using their technology, including a button, a knob, and a slider.

  • And they've made their CAD models open source and available for free.

  • If you have a 3D printer at home and the right materials for the joblike the composite plastic for the reflective antenna

  • you too could festoon your house with bells and whistles of buttons and switches.

  • Backscatter away, you beautiful nerds!

  • Researchers from the University of Washington have been working on WiFi backscattering technology in one form or another

  • since 2014, so it seems like a safe bet they'll keep developing the idea.

  • There could be a market for this technology in the future, so if one day fresh detergent bottles keep mysteriously arriving at your door

  • just when you're about to run out, you'll know why.

  • Are you into 3D printing, and would you consider making these printed WiFi devices?

  • Let us know in the comments.

  • If you want to know about WiFi 6 and why it lets more devices connect to your modem,

  • check out this video where I misstate the name of the IEEE and make engineers cringe.

  • Sorry about that, guys.

  • Make sure to subscribe to Seeker, and as always, thanks for watching. See you next time.

We live in an ever-more interconnected world.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 wifi antenna detergent signal gear meter

These Power-Free 3D Printed Objects Can Talk With WiFi

  • 3 2
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/29
Video vocabulary