Finding power usually isn't a huge issue, but if no direct power source were necessary at all, it would be possible to develop simple, battery-free devices that could talk to each other for purposes such as making payments, sending messages, and even monitoring the structure of buildings. Researchers from the University of Washington have put forth just such a possibility: they've proposed a new technology called "ambient backscatter" that would require no battery and could wirelessly transmit simple messages.
The idea may not be entirely new, but it's different in a big way. Technologies like RFID, which is often used as a simple electronic information tag, also work wirelessly and without a battery — the big difference here is that RFID requires that a nearby base station be connected to a power source, whereas ambient backscatter devices would require no extra pieces at all.
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