Battery-less switches: The next big thing in IoT ?

Internet of Things, or IoT as it is popularly known, needs no special introduction as it has been making rounds for quite a few years. As I am writing this, I know there are probably million other researchers in thousands of laboratories around the globe, sweating it out to come up with something new in this field. IoT relies on good quality sensor data at the right time in the right format, which is why energy harvesting wireless sensors are of special interest.

Imagine, being able to control your air-conditioner or television through a remote which doesn’t need a battery; yeah, you read that right. This is one of the many applications that energy harvesting switches can offer.

IoT

EnOcean, a Siemens spin-off, is a leading batteryless switch manufacturer with open APIs available for researchers to  play around and hook it up with other IoT devices. It uses a piezoelectric generator,  and the mere mechanical pressure generated by pushing the switch generates just enough electricity to transmit a unique switch code. Range of the switch comes in at around 120 meters which should give end-users plenty of flexibility. Two way communication is possible with EnOcean and the datarate comes around 125 kbps (For more info and comparison of EnOcean with other IoT technologies, refer to my paper here)

enocean

Refer to enocean website here for details on motion energy harvesting.

Today, energy harvesting wireless technology is very well established for providing M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions in the building automation sector, bridging the control of light, HVAC and other fields of building technology to smart home, smart metering and energy management systems. This is the starting point to actuate further applications that lead to the Internet of Things in the long term.

For hobbyists, hooking up a EnOcean switch to your home automation network is not a Herculean task. There are open source automation applications like OpenHab available which can do the task seamlessly.

References:
1. https://www.enocean.com/en/newsitem/energy-harvesting-wireless-and-iot/
2. https://www.enocean-alliance.org/en/enocean-technology-and-the-internet-of-things/
3. http://www.electronicsweekly.com/uncategorised/sensors-powered-by-energy-harvesting-key-to-iot-success-2015-08/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EnOcean

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