TV-Backscatter: Enabling ultra-low power communication over a long distance

Small electronic devices are numerous and ubiquitous. In this era of IoT (Internet of Things), we will use this devices as sensors indoors or outdoors. They can be embedded in furniture, cloths, or even implantable devices; they can also be attached on trees or placed in corn elds. Any cable attached to the device limits the agility of it, so not in all possible scenarios will the devices be plugged with electric cable. In some scenarios like sensors on trees, solar panels or button cell batteries are our only options of powering them. When it comes to the energy consumption, we discover that, for many sensors, the sensing part consumes only a little amount of energy with the recent development of MEMS while the data transportation part consumes a lot. In conclusion, it is a big challenge to power small devices to transport their information. For indoor devices, there are technologies like wireless charging to power them or technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy to enable ultra low power data transportatioin. However, for outdoors devices, we have less technologies or tools. To tackle that, we propose a new way to tranport data for small computing devices which needs no wire, consumes little power, and more importantly, is available outdoors in almost all inhabited rigions.

In this work, we present a Digital TV signal based RF backscatter system to enable the ubiquitous, low-power wireless communication for these small devices. The backscatter system can harvest energy from the existing TV signals to power the system and provide a long range communication. Unlike traditional RFID backscatter, which needs a nearby RFID reader to provide a high-power signal as the excitation signal, our backscatter system use the ambient digital TV signals from TV tower station.

Team: Qiuyue Xue, Caihua Li, Lei Yang, Ziyang Xu

Advisor: Chenren Xu

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