SAN JOSE, Calif. In an effort to overcome the battery-life issue facing remote wireless sensor networks, Millennial Net Inc. has paired its i-Bean wireless technology with "energy harvesting" technology from startup Ferro Solutions Inc.
Demonstrated for the first time at last week's ISA 2003 show in Houston, the partners showed an i-Bean wireless transmitter operating off an inductive vibration energy converter that could generate 1.2 to 3.6 mV from a vibration of between 28 to 30 Hz with a force of 50 to 100 mg.
"This would allow us to transmit [battery free] at 115 Kbits/s over a distance of 30 m," said Tod Riedel, cofounder and vice president of business development and marketing at Millenial Net (Cambridge, Mass.).
The company's Net's i-Beans includes small, ultralow power self-organizing wireless sensor networking computing devices that enable sensors and other monitoring and control appliances to connect over low data-rate wireless networks. Target applications include industrial, medical, consumer and the military.
Ferro Solutions' Energy Harvesters "use patented inductive techniques" to generate electricity from vibrations that are barely noticeable to the human touch, said Robert O'Handley, senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a cofounder and consultant to Ferro Solutions(Roslindale, Mass.).
O'Handley said the technique used in energy harvesters optimizes the coupling between the coil and magnet in the transducer to maximize power output generated by vibration, making them a viable power source.
According to Riedel, Millennial Net expects to have a commercial version of the paired technologies ready in six to 12 months. The company is also working with a separate company on a solar panel-powered wireless sensor design.