MUNICH, Germany A Siemens spinoff called EnOcean is targeting its energy-harvesting technology at wireless sensor networks in buildings, which company executives predict will be a multibillion dollar market.
EnOcean (Oberhaching, Germany) announced a new system architecture here this week during the Electronica 2008 exhibition. The company claims its Dolphin architecture creates new industry standards for wireless sensor networks. The scheme seeks to speed deployment of battery-less actuators and bidirectional links between sensors.
"Wireless in buildings is really getting more and more visibility," said EnOcean founder Armin Anders.
Energy harvesting captures the energy generated by differences in temperature, lighting, pressure or position to power devices like sensors connected via a wireless network. The technique replaces batteries, thereby saving energy.
EnOcean supplies energy-harvesting modules to OEMs, and claims to have more than 500,000 radio nodes installed in "sustainable" buildings. It said 10,000 of its nodes have been installed in two new towers in Madrid. The devices are used to control room temperatures by powering actuators on window shades. The technique helps reduce energy usage in offices throughout the buildings.
The core of the company's architecture is a new single-chip ASIC designed for energy and sensor management. Depending on volume, Anders said the chip costs about 10 euros each.
The architecture is also designed so that wireless transmissions on a sensor network are significantly reduced to further cut energy use.