SlimWiFi: Ultra-Low-Power IoT Radio Architecture Enabled by Asymmetric Communication


Renjie Zhao, University of California San Diego; Kejia Wang, Baylor University; Kai Zheng and Xinyu Zhang, University of California San Diego; Vincent Leung, Baylor University


To communicate with existing wireless infrastructures such as Wi-Fi, an Internet of Things (IoT) radio device needs to adopt a compatible PHY layer which entails sophisticated hardware and high power consumption. This paper breaks the tension for the first time through a system called SlimWiFi. A SlimWiFi radio transmits on-off keying (OOK) modulated signals. But through a novel asymmetric communication scheme, it can be directly decoded by off-the-shelf Wi-Fi devices. With this measure, SlimWiFi radically simplifies the radio architecture, evading power hungry components such as data converters and high-stability carrier generators. In addition, it can cut the transmit power requirement by around 18 dB, while keeping a similar link budget as standard Wi-Fi. We have implemented SlimWiFi through PCB prototype and IC tape-out. Our experiments demonstrate that SlimWiFi can reach around 100 kbps goodput at up to 60 m, while reducing power consumption by around 3 orders of magnitude compared to a standard Wi-Fi transmitter.

NSDI '23 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

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This content is available to:

@inproceedings {286417,
author = {Renjie Zhao and Kejia Wang and Kai Zheng and Xinyu Zhang and Vincent Leung},
title = {{SlimWiFi}: {Ultra-Low-Power} {IoT} Radio Architecture Enabled by Asymmetric Communication},
booktitle = {20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-33-5},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {1201--1219},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr

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