While most IoT devices already function using low power mode, their life span is still dependent on the battery technology used to power them. As the location of these sensors become more precarious, the reliability decreases. Battery replacement becomes a dangerous job, and in some cases, it is more feasible to deliver a new sensor than to replace the batteries on an already functioning one.
Based on their lower power consumption, replacing the battery on IoT devices might be more straightforward than initially thought. A team from Cranfield University in the UK has developed a method of harvesting piezoelectric energy, converting the natural vibrations of a wind turbine and turning it into viable power for an IoT sensor. The implications for IoT devices are far-reaching since it means that devices can be deployed and be able to manage their own energy production and maintenance.
More than A Single Methodology
While generating electricity from the vibrations of a device’s housing might be feasible in some locations, in others there just isn’t any inertial energy to work with. As an alternative, Alta Devices in Silicon Valley have developed a solar cell which it claims is more flexible, efficient, and lightweight than existing photovoltaic cells. They have made an appearance in recent years to power tiny, affordable satellites which have been used by US secondary and tertiary students for atmospheric research.
Long Term Outlook
As IoT devices expand, battery manufacturers will be unable to keep up with the need, and they will require alternative power sources to keep their machines running. UK manufacturer Arm estimates that to power one trillion IoT devices would require three times the amount of lithium currently used in rechargeable batteries worldwide. As the scope of IoT devices expands, the need to battery-less technology to power them will soar. The happy balance where IoT device usage meets low-power operating systems that use alternative means for their power requirements is the goal for device manufacturers.