Enormous progress is also being made on the product side, leveraging advancements in energy harvesting: revolutionary self-powered radiator valves, from Kieback&Peter for instance, generate energy from the difference in temperature between the hot water and the surrounding air. This energy powers both the communication with a controller or BAS system, and to turn the valve itself. Without cables or batteries, these wireless devices are especially easy to install, and they require no maintenance.
In further optimised systems, central equipment such as boilers or air handling units are integrated into the wireless communication system enabling scalable HVAC generation on demand, visible and controllable over the Internet on a PC, tablet or smart phone.
Secure monitoring instead of battery failure
Alarm systems, such as water detectors for example, are a second field, which batteryless wireless technology is opening up, due to its specific features. Here, the reliability requirements are a lot more stringent than those required for lighting controls. A system failure not only means a malfunction but can cause much more serious consequences for other systems that depend upon the equipment being monitored. It’s a fact that more malfunctions are caused by battery failures than by the electronics, especially in large systems. Energy harvesting overcomes this issue.
From everywhere into the Cloud
Via gateways, the standard-based energy harvesting technology can also communicate with Ethernet, WiFi, GSM/UMTS/CDMA and other networks for integration in cloud services. Here, all data collected by batteryless wireless sensors is encrypted and transmitted to a cloud service over the Internet. The data packages are encrypted with an AES-Algorithm with 128 bit-keys.
Furthermore, every telegram comes with its own rolling code. A forever changing authentication code is generated, based on the rolling code and the AES encrypted data package, and then validated by the receiving system. The same proven mechanism also takes place by locking or unlocking a car with a wireless key. For even higher requirement of data security, application-specific encryption mechanisms can be integrated, too.
The gateways connected to a control and visualisation software by TCP/IP can be used to control all relay receivers and sensors bidirectional offering energy management as-a-service. Therefore facility managers, building owners and businesses can monitor important inventory, equipment, assets and energy related information from anywhere at any time, via the cloud. Critical building related data is automatically pushed to the cloud, freeing owners and managers from the often-challenging coordination and expense of hosting onsite servers.
One of the major advantages of such a cloud-based solution is that the management system arrives completely pre-commissioned from the manufacturer and ongoing device commissioning is expertly done on behalf of the client and pushed out from the cloud. The users are granted unlimited access to their remote, dedicated virtual server with their own IP address, accessible from a desktop or smart phone.
Future power of energy harvesting
Today the need for wireless applications with ultra-low power consumption and the advancements in establishing communication standards offer M2M providers new opportunities to innovate and evolve their products and devices. Already the acceptance of international standards is accelerating the development and implementation of energy-optimised wireless sensors and wireless sensor networks associated with M2M environments.
In addition to the already established markets for home and building technology, there seems to be a natural progression in its use in smart homes, smart metering and the smart grid as well as solutions for industry, logistics and transportation.
About the author
Frank Schmidt is the Chief Technology Officer of EnOcean GmbH.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.