UW Engineers Make Singing Posters And Talking Shirts

Posted: Mar 2 2017, 7:08am CST | by , Updated: Mar 2 2017, 7:11am CST , in Latest Science News


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UW Engineers Make Singing Posters and Talking Shirts
UW researchers used FM radio signals to broadcast music and data notifications from a Simply Three band poster at a Seattle bus stop to a smartphone. An antenna made of copper tape was embedded on the back of the poster.University of Washington
  • Engineers turn objects into FM stations

New technique developed by engineers will turn objects into FM stations

Now engineers will make it possible for you to listen to FM through objects, like you see a poster of a concert along the road and you tune in the car radio and could listen that band’s music. Not only this, imagine if through your perspiration, your shirt would send data on your vital signs to your phone.

Engineers from University of Washington have developed a technique that will allow smart posters and clothes communicate with the smartphones and car radios.

Like now, the billboards could send the digital content of local attractions, and the street sign could show the notice of safe road crossing, making it easier for the disabled. Clothes with integrated sensors would be able to find the vital signs, sending them to a smartphone.

Engineers want to make smart fabrics and cities where any object could talk to people by sending information to their cars and smartphones, explained lead faculty and UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering Shyam Gollakota.

There is a problem that radio technologies, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and typical FM radios would last less than half a day through a coin cell battery while transmitting, so the new technique that will send information through FM radio signals already existing in the air and use zero power, explained co-author and UW electrical engineering doctoral student Vikram Iyer.

The UW team named the technique “backscattering”, and explained how to apply it to outdoor FM radio signals. The new technique will transfer messages by encoding and reflecting data and audio in the signals that are present in the environments, but will not affect the radio transmissions.

The research results were published in the paper that will be presented in Marchin Boston at the 14th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

The engineers’ team explained that a singing poster across the road could transmit band’s music and its advertisement to the smartphone data distance of 12 feet or to a car, at 60 feet.

As FM signals are available everywhere, so it would be easy to apply the technique, said co-author and UW computer science and engineering doctoral student Anran Wang. He also said that now we can turn common objects into a mini FM radio station at zero power.

The system will not disturb the FM radio signals, as the unused band of signals will be used, said co-author Joshua Smith, UW associate professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering. The new system involves three methods for transferring audio signals, and data through FM backscatter.

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