Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Efficient File Transfer for Low-Power and Batteryless Embedded Devices

Technology #5911

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a protocol for the efficient over-the-air transmission of file blocks targeted towards low-power and battery-less embedded devices. Current protocols for transferring large data blocks to low-power devices (for example, during firmware updates) require a large number of acknowledgement frames, the transmission of which can consume large portions of the embedded devices’ energy budgets

Technology Details

The block transmission protocol developed at the University of Michigan overcomes the drawbacks of traditional protocols by providing the required acknowledgement information in one or two frames, thereby, drastically reducing the acknowledgement power budget. The protocol packages a large block and segments it into a multitude of smaller numbered packets to fit the transmission limitations of the wireless link. The receiver keeps track of the received frames and builds a bitmap of received segments. At the end of the transfer, the receiver returns the bitmap of missing segments only. The entire process is repeated until all the blocks have been successfully transferred. As a result, the protocol requires a much smaller transmission power budget from the low-power wireless embedded device


  • Firmware, configuration, and signature updates
  • General binary file transfer


  • Low transmission-power budget
  • Low bandwidth usage