Scientists enhance Bluetooth for more efficient data transmission

Friday, 24 November, 2023

Scientists enhance Bluetooth for more efficient data transmission

Researchers from the University of Sussex have developed a more energy-efficient method of transmitting data that could replace Bluetooth in mobile phones and other devices. The new development could also help improve the battery life of smartphones and wearable technology. When applied to wearable devices, it could even be used to unlock doors by touch or facilitate the exchange of phone numbers by shaking hands.

Professor Robert Prance and Professor Daniel Roggen from the University of Sussex have developed the use of electric waves, rather than electromagnetic waves, for a low-power way to transmit data at close range, while maintaining the high throughput needed for multimedia applications.

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 5G currently rely on electromagnetic modulation, a form of wireless technology which was developed over 125 years ago. In the late 19th century, the focus was to transmit data over long distances using electromagnetic waves. Electric field modulation, however, uses short-range electric waves, which consume less power than Bluetooth. As we tend to be in close proximity to our devices, electric field modulation offers a more efficient method of connecting our devices, enabling longer-lasting battery life when streaming music to headphones, taking calls, using fitness trackers or interacting with smart home technology.

Roggen said we no longer need to rely on electromagnetic modulation, which can be inherently battery hungry. “We can improve the battery life of wearable technology and home assistants, for example, by using electric field modulation instead of Bluetooth. This solution will not only make our lives much more efficient, but it also opens novel opportunities to interact with devices in smart homes,” Roggen said.

The development could advance how technology is used in our day-to-day lives and evolve a range of futuristic applications, too. For example, a bracelet using this technology could enable phone numbers to be exchanged by shaking hands, or a door could be unlocked by just touching the handle.

“The technology is also low cost, meaning it could be rolled out to society quickly and easily. If this were mass-produced, the solution can be miniaturised to a single chip and cost just a few pence per device, meaning that it could be used in all devices in the not-too-distant future,” Roggen said.

The researchers are now seeking industrial partnerships to further miniaturise the technology for personal devices.

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