Washington University Researchers have developed a way to transmit info via WiFi without the help of batteries or electronics with 3D-printed plastic objects. and they show that it will be done with commercially available plastics and WiFi receivers. “Our goal was to make something that just comes out of your 3D printer at home and can send useful info to other devices,” Vikram Iyer, a graduate student on the project, said in a statement. “But the big challenge is how do you communicate wirelessly with WiFi using only plastic? that is something that no one has been able to do before.”
The team used things like gears, 3D-printed springs, and switches, for to do this, that is used to translate motion into antenna-transmitted info. for example, they created an anemometer, that measures wind speed, and attached it to a gear. when the gear rotates, the gear teeth connect to an antenna embedded into the object and the antenna then reflects ambient WiFi signal, which can be decoded by a WiFi receiver. The wind will faster, the gear will spin faster and the more rapidly those signals are transmitted. They also created a scale and a flowmeter that can measure water speed.
Additionally, they printed 3 widgets — a button, a knob, and a slider — that work in similar ways and can be used to talk to other smart devices. The team also developed two smart objects -a bottle with an attached flowmeter that can track the remaining detergent and order it when it gets low and a test tube holder that can be used to measure the liquid test tubes contain and track inventory. And lastly, they developed a way to print iron into 3D objects in distinct patterns, that once scan by a gaussmeter during a smartphone, as an example, will be used to convey important info about that object like what it’s, who created it or how a robot is meant to interact with it. “It seems like a regular 3D-printed object but there is invisible info inside that can be read with your smartphone,” said Justin Chan, another student on the project.
The Researchers is making their 3D designs available to the public so that anybody can use these objects at home. The work was recently presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on computer graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia and you can check out a video about the work below.