Wi-Fi used to Power Surveillance Camera Your WiFi router is currently only delivering data to your devices, but one day it might be able to send power as well. PhD student Vamsi Talla and a team in the Sensor Systems Lab at the University of Washington have devised a system to power low-energy devices using only a WiFi router. It requires a little modification of the signal profile, but it’s possible with existing technology. There are already low-power sensors and other devices in the world, but they still need a battery or conventional power source to keep them chugging along. The radio frequency electromagnetic radiation that makes up a WiFi signal contains energy, and there’s a lot of it. Have you ever opened the network list on a device and seen a few dozen hotspots? That’s energy that can be harvested. The problem with generating energy from the signals is that WiFi is not consistent. It’s broadcasted in bursts across several different frequencies in the same channel. The team got around this by modifying a router to broadcast noise when a channel was not in active use. The constant hum from the router was enough to capture and power some low-energy devices. To test this system, the researchers created a temperature sensor powered entirely by WiFi signals. More impressive is the remote camera (seen above with the temp sensor), which stores power from WiFi in a capacitor. When it has enough, it snaps a picture. The device used in the test was able to take a picture once every 35 minutes with no other power source. According to the study, adding the additional noise didn’t interfere with data speeds on the network. Wireless devices all have to be approved by the FCC (and similar international bodies). Any new method of transmitting power via wireless spectrum is sure to experience a lot of regulatory oversight. If the system can be improved, it could form the basis for a future of connected devices, sometimes called the Internet of Things.