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Standford University Engineers Create Ant-Size Radio

The no-battery device was created to help smart gadgets connect to the Internet of Things.

Stanford University, in collaboration with University of California, Berkley, has created a radio the size of an ant. Designed to execute and relay commands, the goal is to have this device be easy to manufacture and be placed in Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The radio is so energy efficient, a university press release states, that it gathers all power necessary from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. This means the device does not require batteries to operate.

“The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the web,” said Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. He recently presented his findings at the VSI Technology and Circuits Symposium.

The project began in 2011, and Arbabian was able to take all the electronics typically found in a Bluetooth device onto a single, ant-sized silicon chip. Based on his designs, the French company STMicroelectronics fabricated working prototypes.

Looking forward, Arbabian hopes to create networks of these chips deployed every meter or so throughout the house. He believes this technology can provide the web of connectivity and control between the Internet and smart household devices. Watch a short video about this high-frequency radio chip below:

For more information, visit Stanford University.

Sources: Press materials received from the university and additional information gleaned from the university’s website.

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