A HD video streaming technique that uses a fraction of the power of traditional methods


Engineers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a technique that could help wearable tech users share high-definition (HD) live videos without letting their devices consume high battery power.


Wearable cameras such as Snap Spectacles use smaller batteries to stay lightweight and functional, hence these devices cannot perform HD video streaming.

The engineers at the University of Washington developed the HD video streaming technique that skips the power-hungry parts and has some other device, like a smartphone, to process the video.

The technique called “backscatter” can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it.

“The fundamental assumption people have made so far is that backscatter can be used only for low-data rate sensors such as temperature sensors,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota, in the findings that were presented at the Advanced Computing Systems Association’s Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

“This work breaks that assumption and shows that backscatter can indeed support even full HD video,” he added.

The pixels in the camera are directly connected to the antenna and it sends intensity values via backscatter to a nearby smartphone.

The UW team also created a low-resolution, low-power security camera, shown here on a stand. It can stream at 13 frames per second to another device, such as a smartphone.Image Credit: Dennis Wise/University of Washington

The phone, which does not have the same size and weight restrictions as a small streaming camera, can process the video instead.

“It’s sort of similar to how the cells in the brain communicate with each other. Neurons are either signalling or they are not, so the information is encoded in the timing of their action potentials,” said co-author Joshua Smith.

The group’s system uses 1,000 to 10,000 times less power than current streaming technology. But it still has a small battery that supports continuous operation.

The next step is to make wireless video cameras that are completely battery-free, Smith added.


The team has also created a low-resolution, low-power security camera, which can stream at 13 frames per second. This falls in line with the range of functions the group predicts for this technology.


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