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Tiny ant-sized radio developed by Stanford engineers

A tiny, ant-sized radio has been developed by engineers at Stanford University, which is small enough and cheap enough that it could be used for a wide variety of applications, specifically “Internet of Things”.

The radio itself, seen above next to a coin, is made from a piece of silicon just a few millimeters in size; one tenth of the size of a regular Wi-Fi antenna. Despite its small size, the engineers at Stanford managed to cram in a receiving antenna, transmitting antenna and a small microprocessor.

All the energy required to power the chip is harvested from background electromagnetic fields, so there’s no need for a battery or other power source. That said, if a single AAA battery were connected to provide power, the chip would be able to function for more than 100 years.

radio, stanford, rfid, internet of things, iot, ant

The reason for creating such a small radio – which costs just a few cents to produce – is to facilitate more interconnected devices through the Internet of Things. Although the chips operate in 24 to 60 GHz frequencies, which are very short range (a tenth of a meter or so), they could be deployed as essentially more powerful RFID tags.

One such use could be for lighting. Place the tiny radio inside your ceiling lights, set up a wireless ambient light sensor nearby (on a window ledge, for example), and the radio could be used to gather data from the sensor that tells it when to turn on and off. This could be achieved for a tiny cost with virtually no power usage, which definitely sounds promising for the future.





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