Oh, the jokes to be had with this. Or more like, the cliché jokes to the tune of “what is this? A radio for ants?” Well, it is a fully functional radio that’s about the size of an ant, though we don’t expect the little insects from deriving any type of pleasure from it.
Stanford engineer Amin Arbabian has managed to create a wireless radio just a few millimeters across that is so energy efficient that it doesn’t need a battery. Instead, it harvests power from the incoming electromagnetic waves. The Stanford radio chip is designed to compute, execute, and relay signals. What sets this technology apart is that it all happens on a single chip that doesn’t rely on any exotic materials or theoretical principles.
The last time we covered a device that “harvests energy from the surrounding electromagnetic waves”, it was for the RCA Airnergy device, which purported to be able to charge its internal battery in this fashion. Back then the consensus was that this was impossible, or at least the energy gathered was so negligible that it would be impossible to charge anything with it. But this radio is different since it actually uses so little energy itself that a single AAA battery could power it for 100 years. Arbabian even managed to fabricate 100 of these tiny radios, just to see if they’d work, and they do. This technology could help facilitate the development of the “Internet Of Things”, where all your devices are interconnected and online, for added functionality.
It’s all a proof-of-concept for the moment, but the fact that it can be done, and more importantly, done at a low cost, might signal a bright future for the technology.