The energy efficiency of computing has improved by a factor of more than a trillion since the electronic computer was invented. This astounding energy efficiency scaling is creating the opportunity for battery-free sensing and computing systems that are powered by radio waves and other ambient energy sources. Such devices can be implanted inside the body, permanently built into structures, or deployed at scales where batteries and wires are infeasible. I will describe my group’s work aiming to enable battery-free, perpetual sensing and computing systems. I will describe our work on RF energy harvesting, wireless power transfer, and ambient backscatter communication, as well as sensor systems built using these building blocks, including a battery-free mobile phone and camera systems. I will also describe research challenges that can help make perpetual computing systems a reality, and will also briefly describe a new project on acoustic levitation.
Joshua R. Smith is the Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he leads the Sensor Systems research group. He was named an Allen Distinguished Investigator by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and he is the thrust leader for Communications and Interface in the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. Before joining UW he was a Principal Engineer at Intel.
In recent years his research has focused on wirelessly powering and communicating with sensor systems in applications such implanted biomedical electronics, ubiquitous computing, and robotics. He is a co-founder of three startup companies that are commercializing research from his lab: Jeeva Wireless, Wibotic, and Proprio. Previously, he co-invented an electric field sensing system for suppressing unsafe airbag firing that is included in every Honda car. He received B.A. degrees in computer science and philosophy from Williams College, the M.A. degree in physics from Cambridge University, and Ph.D. and S.M. degrees from MIT.