Panelist Harry Zervos, a technology analyst with IDTechEx Ltd. argued
that there is a tide that is running in the direction of energy
harvesting. "Microgenerators and energy storage; ultra-low power
electronics; low-energy wireless transmission protocols; these three
coming together allows all sorts of things to happen. In building
controls, in industrial automation and in things like predictive
maintenance," he said.
Yeatman's response was that while there
was little doubt that WSNs [wireless sensor networks] would happen the
open question was whether they would be powered by microgenerators or by
batteries. "Replacing batteries is an enormous burden in many
applications. But you've got to get to very high volume to compete on
price. The case for energy harvesting is not proven. It's an open race.
We have to see what comes up."
Zervos said: "I am optimistic. We
see interest in the applications because people get the vision," to
which Yeatman responded: "In some cases technology can be too easy to
understand and this can produce unrealistic expectations; the idea that
you are going to have a non-charging cell phone, for example."
idea from the floor was that ultra-low power electronics would go even
lower through the use of near- and sub-threshold switching of
transistors and that would first be used to eke out batteries. However,
other audience members argued that such energy-sipping systems would be a
stimulus for the use of energy harvest measures instead of batteries.
moderator Gyselinckx asked the audience whether they were less or more
optimistic about energy harvesting than they were five years ago. Almost
no-one was less optimistic while many hands went up to indicate they
were more optimistic.
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