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Passive Wi-Fi: bringing low power to Wi-Fi transmissions
Kellogg B., Talla V., Gollakota S., Smith J.  NSDI 2016 (Proceedings of the 13th Usenix Conference on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, Santa Clara, CA,  Mar 16-18, 2016) 151-164. 2016. Type: Proceedings
Date Reviewed: Mar 31 2017

Low-power Wi-Fi fills a definite need in the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, and this paper’s ideas advance its evolution. While consumer IoT is built atop “large” devices (Linux/Android/iOS with 4-plus GB of RAM) with big batteries, the industrial IoT (IIoT) is built on much smaller, cheaper devices (32-bit RTOS, 256MB RAM). In this world of small sensors, power consumption and battery life are the most difficult design constraints. Decreasing communication power by a factor of four or five would be an outstanding innovation, opening the door to new applications.

By way of example, I’m currently working on an IIoT project that uses clusters of central, wired access points (APs) talking to six to eight battery-powered sensors. We’re using 802.15.4 (Zigbee-like) radios to stretch battery life to over three years. If we could switch our sensor radios to the authors’ passive Wi-Fi radios, we would double our sensor lifespan. Moreover, native Wi-Fi would connect us directly to operators, avoiding an extra-cost, special-purpose gateway. This paper completely fulfills our next-generation design goals.

The test results look great, and the paper is easy to read from both technical and nontechnical perspectives. Anyone involved in IoT design, or especially IIoT, should stop and take a look at the authors’ work.

Reviewer:  Bayard Kohlhepp Review #: CR145158 (1706-0372)
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