Laissez-Faire: Fully Asymmetric Backscatter Communication

By: 
Pan Hu, Pengyu Zhang, Deepak Ganesan
Appears in: 
CCR August 2015

Backscatter provides dual-benefits of energy harvesting and low-power communication, making it attractive to a broad class of wireless sensors. But the design of a protocol that enables extremely power-efficient radios for harvesting-based sensors as well as high-rate data transfer for data-rich sensors presents a conundrum. In this paper, we present a new fully asymmetric backscatter communication protocol where nodes blindly transmit data as and when they sense. This model enables fully flexible node designs, from extraordinarily powerefficient backscatter radios that consume barely a few micro-watts to high-throughput radios that can stream at hundreds of Kbps while consuming a paltry tens of micro-watts. The challenge, however, lies in decoding concurrent streams at the reader, which we achieve using a novel combination of time-domain separation of interleaved signal edges, and phase-domain separation of colliding transmissions. We provide an implementation of our protocol, LF-Backscatter, and show that it can achieve an order of magnitude or more improvement in throughput, latency and power over state-of-art alternatives.