To go along with its ultra low-power semiconductors, this week, Anagear also released the ANG101x development kit to help familiarize OEMs and designers with the products. The kit includes an evaluation board with a photovoltaic panel and full set of documentation, including a user manual and datasheets for the circuits.
Anagear's emergence supports a growing trend in power-management to offer new and better ways for low-power systems to manage their power and even harvest from other sources.
Texas Instruments recently introduced a low-power converter to offer battery-free power to wireless sensor networks, smoke detectors, wearable medical devices, and other small devices. The company claims the converter can increase the amount of harvested energy an end application can use as much as 70 percent.
Anagear, too, is targeting these type of devices with its circuits, according to Dhaeze:
Think about how smoke detectors always give this beep in the middle of the night when the battery runs out. If you can reduce that power consumption where you can run that from a solar panel, it becomes an install-and-forget kind of device. The same is true for a lot of other battery operated devices.
Other researchers are exploring other low-power and energy-harvesting options. A team at the University of Michigan's department of aerospace engineering recently developed technology that can harvest energy from the human heartbeat to power a pacemaker, a move that could eliminate the need for battery replacement over the life of the device.
Not if meets the right balance of cost and performance. If it adds too much cost to the BOM then only the designs trying to squeeze every last nanowatt will want the part. On the other hand, if they get the part under a dime in volume then I can use a cheaper, power guzzling micro and spend the dime on their part. It's another performance/cost trade off.
It definitely seems like Anagear is on to something here with its preservation of power it manages by taking power management out of the microcontroller. It seems a fairly simplistic idea and will be interesting to see if this takes off. I wonder if designers might balk at making this change to the time-worn design.
Very true, so many designs simply need to wake up every second or so to make a measurement and that clock circuitry usually takes a few microamps. Microcontroller vendors have gotten better at providing a low current wake-up but aren't really there yet.
ZiLOG has a pretty nice watchdog circuit in their Encore parts that can do it with less than a microamp.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
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Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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