Yes, it could be…but nowadays only if you need small energy quantities that can be reloaded with autonomous microgenerators. This is called Energy Harvesting. There are big steps in this revolution that can be very useful to Internet of Things projects. The IoT revolution and Energy harvesting are very related and grow together. Indeed is a necessary revolution, some predictions says that it will be near 34 billion of IoT devices by 2020.
Usually the sensors in IOT solutions need a minimal quantity of energy and can be supplied with energy around them. These sensors need a long-term solution of power to run properly. The microgenerators collect the necessary energy from different sources: vibrations, radio waves, small solar panels or body heating ( kinetic, solar and thermal energy). The possibilities of course are endless, from machinery in industry to wearable objects. In the next video you see an example of an energy harvesting backpack development by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation):
The kinetic energy and the vibrations have opportunities in industry fields, for example with vibration machinery. The french company Arveni has different B2B solutions in order to power wireless devices through microgenerators. In this line they are developed the T-Rex Vibration Energy Harvester (200 mW @ 50Hz 5 m / s²) who collects energy from the vibration of machinery (electric motors, pumps, fans, etc).
In IoT projects the sensors are the king and you need a good energy harvesting solution if you do not want to change batteries or to recharge batteries. A spanish company called Farsens works in RFID tags that do not need batteries. The RFID chip is integrated with low power sensors to collect and transmit data like temperature, pressure, humidity,…in the video you can see a demo about how to control a warehouse inventory with battery free sensors and with different weights of products.
EnOcean is one of the biggest companies in energy harvesting wireless technology and has many partnerships to integrate this technology into IoT Solutions. Their technology allows to design self-powered IoT devices for industrial or home applications. Dr. Wald Siskens, CEO of EnOcean talks about some solutions.
What is your opinion about energy harvesting? Dou you have any doubts? Texas Instruments has a video where you can see how energy harvesting devices, with low-power microcontrollers, microgenerators and microsensors, can be present in our lives:
Brian joined Altair in 1999 and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University.
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