NOV 16, 2018 06:47 PM PST

No More Charging Smart Devices?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Someday it may become true when our cell phones, tablets, and other smart devices do not need charging—thanks to research performed at the University of Waterloo where scientists are seeking ways to create smart devices that do not use batteries.


The potential battery-free objects will feature an IP address for internet connectivity, referred to as Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Learn more about IoT devices:

Many IoT devices include sensors that detect their environment, such as room's ambient temperature. However, a challenge that remains in the creation of these devices is keeping it sustainable and battery-free—this is when researchers found a way to hack radio frequency identification (RFID) tags using a phototransistor that responds to different variations of light giving devices the ability to sense the environment. "It's really easy to do," explains Postdoctoral Fellow, Ju Wang from Waterloo's Cheriton School of Computer Science. "First, you remove the plastic cover from the RFID tag, then cut out a small section of the tag's antenna with scissors, then attach a sensor across the cut bits of the antenna to complete the circuit."

RFID tags only provide identification and location-- removing the tag's antenna and adding a sensing device across it -- gives the tag the ability to sense the environment.

"We see this as a good example of a complete software-hardware system for IoT devices," says Professor Omid Abari, also from Waterloo's Cheriton School of Computer Science Abari said. "We hacked simple hardware -- we cut RFID tags and placed a sensor on them. Then we designed new algorithms and combined the software and hardware to enable new applications and capabilities.

An RFID tag is modified by cutting out a small part its antenna (silver ribbon) and placing a small light-sensing phototransistor or temperature-responsive resistor (thermistor) on it.

Credit: University of Waterloo

Findings of the study titled ‘Challenge: RFID Hacking for Fun and Profit-ACM MobiCom’ were recently presented in the Proceedings of the 24th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking. "Our main contribution is showing how simple it is to hack an RFID tag to create an IoT device. It's so easy a novice could do it."

Source: Science Daily


About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
OCT 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 16, 2019
LightSail-2 Spacecraft Demonstrates Viability of Solar Sails
The future of space travel looks bright, especially considering the fact that future deep-space probes could utilize passive solar sails to get to their de...
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Developing a Framework for Microbiome Research
Scientists and clinicians are beginning to recognize the power of the microbiome - the microbes that we carry in and on our bodies....
OCT 16, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 16, 2019
Scientists Synthesized the First-ever Circular Molecule of Pure Carbon
Carbon atoms, the favorite "Lego blocks" for chemists, are known for its versatility of forming a large variety of three-dimensional configu...
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Does free will exist? Neuroscientists debunk popular argument against free will
For decades, a groundbreaking brain study fueled opinions about whether we have free will over our actions. The conclusions drawn from this experiment, how...
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Electric Bacteria Form Undersea Networks of Conductivity
A team of scientists has found that bacteria can act like power lines, and send electrical currents over long distances....
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Technology That Prevents Wildfires
A study by Stanford University researchers explains the development of a gel-like fluid that can serve as preventive method to reduce the incidence of wild...
Loading Comments...