Most people are familiar with RFID tags. Most common are passive RFID tags, where a battery-less IC device harvests power from a nearby RFID reader and uses it to respond to the reader with an identification number. Two broadly adopted standards for this technology are the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Class 1 Generation 1 and Class 1 Generation 2 standards, which operate in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands. The standard is led by EPCGlobal.

WISPs are a wireless, battery-free sensing and computation platform, powered by harvested energy from off-the-shelf UHF RFID readers. To a RFID reader, a WISP is just a normal EPC gen1 or gen2 tag; but inside the WISP, the harvested energy is operating a 16-bit general purpose microcontroller. The microcontroller can perform a variety of computing tasks, including sampling sensors, and report that sensor data back to the RFID reader. WISPs have been built with light sensors, temperature sensors, and strain gauges. WISPs can write to flash and perform cryptographic computations.

WISPs were conceived as a collaboration between Intel Research Seattle and the University of Washington. The lead investigator for WISPs is Joshua R. Smith, principal engineer at Intel Research Seattle.

WISP Development covers a wide range of topics from RF and low power analog design to microcontroller firmware and GUI application development. You can get a detailed discussion on the WISP design and previous work on the publications page. Hardware and firmware specifics can be found in the Developing WISPs section. More learning-oriented tutorials will be hosted in this section. Topics include: