Ambient Backscatterers using FM Broadcasting for Low Cost and Low Power Wireless Applications

Spyridion-Nektarios Daskalakis, John Kimionis, Ana Collado, George Goussetis, Manos M. Tentzeris, Apostolos Georgiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
375 Downloads (Pure)


Nowadays, the explosive growth of Internet-of-Things-related applications has required the design of low-cost and low-power wireless sensors. Although backscatter radio communication is a mature technology used in radio frequency (RF) identification applications, ambient backscattering is a novel approach taking advantage of ambient signals to simplify wireless system topologies to just a sensor node and a receiver (RX) circuit eliminating the need for a dedicated carrier source. This paper introduces a novel wireless tag and RX system that utilizes broadcast frequency modulated (FM) signals for backscatter communication. The proposed proof-of-concept tag comprises of an ultralow-power microcontroller (MCU) and a RF front-end for wireless communication. The MCU can accumulate data from multiple sensors through an analog-to-digital converter, while it transmits the information back to the RX through the front-end by means of backscattering. The front-end uses ON-OFF keying modulation and FM0 encoding on ambient FM station signals. The RX consists of a commercial low-cost software-defined radio which downconverts the received signal to baseband and decodes it using a suitable signal processing algorithm. A theoretical analysis of the error rate performance of the system is provided and compared to bit-error-rate measurements on a fixed transmitter-tag-RX laboratory setup with good agreement. The prototype tag was also tested in a real-time indoor laboratory deployment. Operation over a 5-m tag-reader distance was demonstrated by backscattering information at 2.5 kb/s featuring an energy per packet of 36.9~mu text{J}.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5251-5262
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017


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