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  • Writer's pictureHugo Pinto

Crowdsourced Wifi – batteries not included!

Powering on through the world of Crowdsourcing, and how it has been prospering in the digital age, come the news about a UCLA & JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) project working on Low energy Wifi reflector. This opens a real window of opportunity for a quantum leap.

One of the question marks of wearables revolves around energy consumption to maintain a transmitter device, so the idea of reducing this need in size and power consumption is good news for this new industry.

The teams of researchers at UCLA and NASA’s JPL have announced the development of an ultra low-power wifi reflector link that can communicate at up to 3 Mb/s at ranges of up to 2.5m, allowing communication between devices with only 0.01% of the power consumption of a regular network link – read more from the Google Research team here.

It’s easy to foresee that from Google’s Loon project, and Facebook’s Solar powered drones to provide high-speed internet might be facing some serious competition in years to come. If internet connection can be reflected or replicated by connected devices, there is no need for large infrastructures to physically provide the services – this impacts a whole line of industries that have prospered in providing hardware to these complex processes.

What this means for connected products

The computer went mainstream when it was transformed from a warehouse into a PC size. The Cell phone did the same, when it went from the size of a carry bag to a comfortably handheld size. Photography took a huge leap in popularity once the smartphone cameras drastically increased in quality and decreased in size.

Guaranteeing connectivity and power in this small size and energy requirements is a bliss to all things connected, including the idea that our own bodies will connected at some point in the future.

The impact for TELCO and ISPs

This is yet another threat in the making, and thinking network services were the parachute of the TELCO industry, they now see that infrastructural advantage being diluted. The ISP industry, might also see disruption, seeing the possibility of every wearable replacing their network access points. This will put tech companies on even grounds and maybe even see companies like Nike competing in whole new markets. The User will be the centre of business, and whomever owns a trust relationship with the user, will dominate across many ecosystems.

The ripple effect in ecosystems

Picking up on the Nike example, imagine them replicating a walled-garden ecosystem like apple, but for wearables. Buy their clothing, subscribe to their Internet service, and belong to a community of connected sports fans, that is also an eco-system for quantified-self, weight loss and health services provided by 3rd parties.

Another big effect is the needlessness of network coverage to use connected devices and apps! Suddenly Whatsapp, Line, Snapchat and Skype are the TELCOs of the future.

Imagine what this would mean for the Internet of Things and how other connected vehicles, physical locations and urban structural elements could become the beacons that light our connected future – batteries not included!

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