Great analysis of areas where energy harvesting makes a lot of sense, Al. I've done quite a bit of coverage of energy harvesting and these small sensors seem to be the ripest for adoption of the technology in the near term. Home automation seems an especially apt fit for many of the ways you detailed. It's interesting to see where this technology is heading.
Thats a great advancement in terms of both wireless communication and energy harvesting. Utilizing energy from a room, without worrying about the battery or electrical supply and there huge costs seems to me the perfect investment.
Although to base the entire electrical control on battery-less system might put doubt in some peoples mind, mostly if the application requires continous use of sensors and anctuators under static condtions of environment.
This technology definitely opens up new application possibilities by taking care of the power needs of small sensors. It's easy to envision how this fits into possible Internet of Things applications by reducing costs and simplifying setup/operation.
Unfortunately, putting "things" into the internet of things exposes them all to hacking, and being that they would probably not be upgradable, ultimately being compromised.
But my concern is more about the receiving end of all of those wireless energy harvesting control devices. The only way such a system can function is for the listening to be done fairly constantly, since the operation is totally asynchronous. So each light fixture and every controlled apliance must keep watch in oder to detect a request for it's services. So something must be powering each of those receivers most of the time. How else will they know when they are getting a command? And there must be enough intelligence in that reception to be able to decide if that command is addressed to that particular device, the alternative is to have a very large nunmber of separate frequencies, which is probably not a workable option. So we now have a large number of devices listening, each using some amount of power constantly in order to be able to hear a command. How is this a reduction in energy consumption? It may certainly be a reduction in installation cost, and it will almost certainly be more convenient, and probably always be cheaper than running wires at present electricians pay rate, but it does not seem like a way to conserve energy.
Some additional degrees of automation may result in reduced energy consumption due to reducing unneeded on time, but will that mathc the constant pwer draw needed to power all those listening nodes?
Tekochip, A new wireless photoelectric sensor uses a technique similar to the one you mention. They actually developed their own protocol to limit network communications to very short durations and achieve up to five year battery life. Here is a link to the article on this technology.
I missed this story because I was on vacation when it appeared. This is a great story and it makes a lot of sense. Think about how much vibration and heat and other sources of energy are near home appliances. It only makes sense that it could be used for some low-power applications.
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