What is passive WiFi?

Wireless WiFi connections are here to stay and are gradually replacing wired connections, mainly due to the many advantages it offers over the usual wired method, including flexibility and cost reduction in hundreds of meters of cables and other hardware necessary to start up a traditional network.

Even though WiFi connection technology is extremely efficient and is already deeply rooted among users, as evidenced by the millions of devices that connect to the Internet or each other at all hours every day of the year, there are certain drawbacks with wireless routers and other devices involved in a WiFi network, and are basically related to its high electrical consumption.

While manufacturers make enormous efforts to make phones, tablets, and laptops more and more energy-efficient, the devices that provide us with the WiFi signal continue to consume large amounts of electricity. It is to try to solve this problem that a group of engineers from the University of Seattle developed a new technology based on WiFi, called “Passive WiFi.”

In this article, you will find everything you need to learn more about everything that a passive WiFi connection can offer us, as well as the basics of how it works.

What is passive WiFi?

Basically, passive WiFi is a technology that will allow us to face the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a much more efficient way in terms of energy. Nowadays, it is common to have several devices that connect to the Internet such as audio players, phones, tablets, computers, different wearables such as watches, and many other devices, to which we have to periodically recharge their batteries so that they can continue to provide service without problems.

However, in the near future, the Internet of Things, or “IoT,” will allow us to extend the way we are connected, that is, it will increase our dependence on the Internet. In a way that we had never imagined, it will even reach unexpected elements such as cleaning supplies or food, with which the devices that use an Internet connection will multiply several times, due to the very nature of the Internet of things.

For all this, we will need batteries, or some other way of feeding them with electricity to make them work. Let’s imagine that we have to recharge, change the batteries, or buy batteries for dozens of devices that connect to the Internet. A really heavy job that no one would want to tackle. Passive WiFi was developed precisely to solve this energy problem.

How does passive WiFi work?

As we mentioned above, wireless devices such as cell phones and computers that connect to the Internet are increasingly efficient in terms of energy consumption. However, the same is not the case with routers, WiFi repeaters, and all the other associated hardware with a wireless network, they still consume a lot of power.

As many of us know, to establish a WiFi network, at least two devices are necessary, each of them capable of sending the radio signals that the information packets contain. For this, all the devices involved in data traffic must work on the same frequency to be able to transmit and receive data, for which each device is equipped with the necessary hardware, that is, the transmitter and the baseband chip.

The fundamental difference between standard WiFi connections and passive WiFi connections is that in the second type of connection, only one of the devices radiates the signal, which is sent to another device through passive sensors, a baseband chip, and its corresponding antenna, thus obtaining the significant energy savings characteristic of passive WiFi connections.

By implementing a passive WiFi system, we would be talking about energy savings of approximately 10,000 times less consumption compared to a standard wireless network. In order for this incredible energy saving to be real, and to be available to all users, new hardware is necessary to send and receive the information packets, which is already in a highly developed state.

This hardware has very low energy requirements, between 10 and 50 microwatts, and if we consider that a standard connection device consumes approximately 100 microwatts, the difference is more than remarkable.

To give an example of how low the consumption level of passive WiFi is, we can mention that Bluetooth consumes 1000 times more energy than this type of WiFi, so it would be perfectly correct to think that passive WiFi could completely replace the technology of Bluetooth.

Passive WiFi range and speed

One of the most important characteristics of passive WiFi is that it is a backward-compatible technology. It is unnecessary to change our devices for others that incorporate passive WiFi chips, since current smartphones, computers, and tablets are perfectly capable of working with passive WiFi.

Regarding the transmission speed that passive WiFi can reach, it can reach up to 11 Mb per second, a figure that although it may seem scarce, especially in modern scenarios, we must not forget that it is still in an early stage of its development. 

There is no doubt that passive WiFi will become the new data transmission technology in a few years due to its energy efficiency and, above all, because it allows IoT technology to reach its ubiquitous goal.

By TVOC Editor

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