Sussex scientists develop a potential alternative to Bluetooth

2nd January 2024
Paige West

Researchers at the University of Sussex have made an advancement in data transmission technology, presenting a potential alternative to Bluetooth that could revolutionise mobile phones and other tech devices.

This approach, focusing on energy efficiency, could greatly enhance the connectivity of ubiquitous smart phones and wearable tech, offering a significant boost to device battery life.

Professors Robert Prance and Daniel Roggen have spearheaded this development, pioneering the use of electric waves for data transmission. This method contrasts sharply with the century-old reliance on electromagnetic modulation – the cornerstone of current technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 5G. The key advantage of electric field modulation lies in its low power consumption, particularly effective for short-range communication, which is common in personal and smart home devices.

The practical implications of this advancement are vast. Not only could it extend battery life during everyday tasks like streaming music or using fitness trackers, but it also paves the way for innovative interactions with technology. For instance, phone numbers could be exchanged with a handshake or doors unlocked with a simple touch, thanks to wearables equipped with this technology.

Professor Daniel Roggen, from the Engineering and Design department at the University of Sussex, elaborates on the benefits: “We no longer need to rely on electromagnetic modulation, which is 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.

“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.”

The team at the University of Sussex is currently seeking industrial partnerships to further refine and miniaturise this technology for widespread application in personal devices, potentially heralding a new era in tech interaction.


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