The idea of a sensor that can send a message to a satellite orbiting over the planet without having batteries and run by a plant seems far-fetched. However, Plant-e and Lacuna Space have come together to create the first plant-based IoT sensor. On 14th January 2020, the service transmitted its first message into space. As far as innovation goes, the sensor offers a lot of promise for future applications.
Using Plant Electricity
One of the sensor’s innovative approaches to powering itself is to generate electricity from the plant it’s connected to. They aren’t bound by sunlight either and can operate independently of the day-night cycle, making them extremely flexible. The sensor is currently designed to transmit data such as electrode potential, cell voltage, temperature, moisture, soil acidity, and environmental humidity. Since the system also has internal storage built into it, these devices can operate independently without maintenance for quite some time.
Plant-e contributed to development by incorporating its proprietary technology to extract electricity from plants. The energy they generate is enough to run low-power sensors and equipment. By combining this technology with an IoT sensor of this type, they were able to create a sensor that was able to send a signal to a low-earth orbit satellite, maintained by Lacuna Space. Since Lacuna Space intends to provide an accessible low-earth orbit system for IoT users globally, this test also helps them ascertain how their system would perform. Lacuna Space hopes their IoT network will provide connectivity in areas that traditionally were remote or hard to obtain a signal.
Sustainable IoT Incoming?
The use of plant energy for IoT opens doors for a lot of different industrial and commercial applications of IoT. The fact that the power generated from the plants would be usable as long as the plant stays alive is a step in the right direction towards sustainable communications. In the future, these devices may be able to offer a better spread of IoT sensors without the need for saddling them with batteries that may require replacement.