BackFi: High Throughput WiFi Backscatter

By: 
Dinesh Bharadia, Kiran Raj Joshi, Manikanta Kotaru, Sachin Katti
Appears in: 
CCR August 2015

We present BackFi, a novel communication system that enables high throughput, long range communication between very low power backscatter IoT sensors and WiFi APs using ambient WiFi transmissions as the excitation signal. Specifically, we show that it is possible to design IoT sensors and WiFi APs such that the WiFi AP in the process of transmitting data to normal WiFi clients can decode backscatter signals which the IoT sensors generate by modulating information on to the ambient WiFi transmission. We show via prototypes and experiments that it is possible to achieve communication rates of up to 5 Mbps at a range of 1 m and 1 Mbps at a range of 5 meters. Such performance is an order to three orders of magnitude better than the best known prior WiFi backscatter system [27, 25]. BackFi design is energy efficient, as it relies on backscattering alone and needs insignificant power, hence the energy consumed per bit is small.