Huawei is showcasing an NB-IoT solution in which energy harvesting is used to power the NB-IoT SoC indefinitely through a new PMIC and attached solar panel. This removes the need for manual intervention (changing batteries) or cabling to supply power in applications which zero maintenance and zero power supply.
The solution employs a Huawei Boudica V150 development board which enables plug and play of various sensors and peripherals alongside the highly integrated V150 NB-IoT SoC and battery charging circuitry based on NOWI’s ultra-high efficiency NW-A2.3 PMIC Energy Harvesting device.
Power has proven to be a bottleneck in the adoption of many IoT applications, with battery maintenance or power cabling reducing the ROI of an IoT system significantly.
- Battery life in many use-cases is shorter than the application life, thus requiring maintenance during system usage and thereby greatly increasing IoT total cost of ownership.
- IoT nodes are typically distributed in remote or difficult to access areas, making cables impossible and changing batteries even more expensive.
NOWI, a new semiconductor company based in the Netherlands, has pioneered novel energy harvesting technology that enables capturing of ambient energy sources such as light, temperature gradients or radio frequency, with the highest efficiency. It has achieved this while at the same time lowering the PCB assembly footprint by 30 times and removing the need for many external components such as inductors. As a result, NOWI’s energy harvesting technology can both power and fit into virtually any small IoT device, or even in RF modems directly, and thereby enables these devices to become ‘Plug & Forget’.
Charles Sturman, Senior Director IoT Product Marketing at Huawei Technologies Ltd said “Huawei is dedicated to achieving a fully connected, intelligent world and as a pioneer in low power wireless chip technology, we see energy harvesting as a key component in achieving ubiquitous connectivity for our customers. We are, therefore excited to be working with NOWI in this area.”
Simon van der Jagt, CEO NOWI added “The Boudica V150 NB-IoT SoC is a market leading IoT communications device integrating modem, radio, power management, application subsystem and dedicated security core in a single chip. With only a few required external components, it enables low system cost and is able to support all of the global NB-IoT frequencies whilst operating direct-from-battery with ultra-low current draw. As such, it is the ideal device to be paired with our breakthrough energy harvesting technology to achieve power autonomy without sacrificing functionality.”
Simon continued; “The low-power design of the Boudica V150 chip together with the high energy harvesting efficiency of the NOWI PMIC make it possible to harvest sufficient energy for frequent NB-IoT transmissions, allowing autonomous connectivity for up to 15 years. That means no more cables or battery changes needed. Simply, Plug & Forget.”
The combination of low-power connectivity and high performance energy harvesting allows devices to become ‘Plug & Forget’. This has the advantage of eliminating the need for node maintenance and thereby greatly reducing the total cost of ownership of an IoT system. In the following examples this is expected to have a big impact:
- Smart Cities: Devices will be placed spread over large areas, making maintenance costly if not impossible. The bulk of Smart City business cases require energy harvesting to be viable.
- Smart Industry: IoT nodes will be used for tracking and monitoring in various industrial applications. The devices are often placed in dangerous or difficult to reach places, making any form of maintenance problematic
- Smart Wearables: Usage of Wearable devices for health purposes require the devices to have a high degree of autonomy. NB-IoT and Energy Harvesting make it possible for the user to have connectivity without a smartphone in close proximity and without having to remember to charge the device frequently.