Why We Need Low-Power, Low-Latency Devices

Why we need low-power, low-latency devices from IEEE Educational Activities

We need low-power, low-latency devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding rapidly, creating an environment of devices and sensors that in many cases will function entirely on batteries. In some use cases where batteries are difficult or even impossible to change (environmental sensors, etc.), the length of the battery life may determine the useful life of the device. However battery life has often been dictated by how long the device stays “awake.” The longer the device sleeps, the longer the battery lasts, but at the expense of performance. A new technology is required that extends battery life without affecting performance. These devices will have many applications, including smart homes, smart warehouses, wearable health monitors, logistics and transportation, and many, many more. It is estimated that companies will spend close to $5 trillion on the IoT over the next five years (Shields, 2017).

Currently, the majority of Internet of Things devices rely on cellular networks. The vast amount of data on these networks, however, slows the rate at which it is processed. According to Shields (2017), “That also creates high latency – the amount of time between when data is sent from a connected device to when it returns to the same device – which in turn limits IoT solutions’ effectiveness.” Low latency is ideal for devices to work efficiently.

Low latency often comes at the price of high power usage, however. Faster data transfer usually requires devices to expend more energy. As a result, we need a mechanism for reducing latency while conserving power. Recharging and replacing batteries for the multitude of IoT devices will become extremely cumbersome. According to Maria Guerra (2017), “Designers of IoT solutions are relying on power management solutions to efficiently handle the power needed to energize a wide range of IoT devices, as maintenance and battery replacement are not cost-effective approaches.”

Wake-Up Radio from IEEE 802.11ba standards task group is the solution to this challenge. This low-power, low-latency solution will allow our devices to work efficiently without expending considerable amounts of power.

You can read more about Wake-Up Radio and how to utilize this technology with IoT devices your organization develops in the upcoming IEEE Technology Report on Wake-Up Radio: An Application, Market, and Technology Impact Analysis of Low-Power/Low-Latency 802.11 Wireless LAN Interfaces. Pre-order today!


Guerra, M. (2017, Jun 15). The power of IoT devices. Electronic Design.

Shields, J. (2017, Jun 15). Here’s how 5G will revolutionize the Internet of Things. Business Insider.

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