Enabling Low-Power yet Standards Compatible Wireless Communication via Wake-Up Receivers and Backscatter Circuits

Emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices for use in smart homes, wearable systems, industrial monitoring, smart cities, and beyond, all require robust yet low-power wireless communications. Unfortunately, most current wireless standards do not intrinsically support low-power operation due to strict requirements on modulation formats, data-rates, linearity, packet overheads, and so on. These restrictions impose minimum power consumption requirements for cellular standards (eg GSM, LTE, and 5G) and WiFi, but also surprisingly limit the ability of supposedly low-power standards (eg Bluetooth Low Energy and Narrowband-IoT) from reaching new application-enabling power levels. This presentation will outline the major challenges facing power reduction in modern wireless systems, and will describe several possible solutions to these challenges. Specifically, we will explore the use of wake-up receivers as a means to reduce the power overhead of between-node synchronization. Then, we will discuss an alternative communication scheme that can help to reduce the power of communication in WiFi and body-area-network systems by >1000× through use of WiFi-compatible backscatter communication systems, including the latest developments incorporating retroreflection and beam steering.