NEW YORK—Seven months after the close of its first acquisition in its 30-year history, Linear Technology’s integration of Dust Networks is progressing exceedingly well, according to the president of the new unit, Joy Weiss. The only major challenge so far has been figuring out what to do with “business cards,” Weiss quipped.
All humor aside, however, much remains to be done as the companies integrate their sales teams and develop wireless sensor products that combine both their expertise for industrial, commercial and enterprise applications.
Dust Networks [Hayward, Calif.] is a pioneer in wireless sensor technology, defining the way to connect smart devices. Linear Technology is actively pursuing the energy harvesting sector with power management devices that convert energy from vibration, solar and thermal sources and provide high efficiency conversion to regulated voltages or to charge batteries and supercapacitor storage elements.
Linear Technology [Milpitas, Calif.] is aiming to be more of a systems supplier, providing solutions, not just components. Dust Networks takes the company further down that path.
“When you take a look from a systems perspective and what goes into a wireless sensor node, Linear had a lot of the pieces except for the wireless piece and the sensor itself, and now we have a very strong systems-level offering that will allow us to work with customers and take that systems approach,” Weiss said.
The acquisition, however, isn’t expected to yield Linear products with Dust technology this year.
According to Tony Armstrong, director of product marketing for power products at Linear Technology, customers are not ready for wireless sensor systems that only rely on ambient sources for electrical energy. The concern is that they won’t work; if a system, for instance, runs on solar power, how will it operate at night? As a result, the combined companies are currently working on energy-harvesting solutions that also incorporate a battery.
“Users are reluctant to let go of the battery,” Armstrong said. “What they want to do now is they’d like to use an energy harvesting system and use it as primary source, and use battery
back-up in case ambient energy doesn’t work.”