Bye Bye Batteries: Unleashing the Real Power of the IoT

Posted on June 5, 2014 by Tom Sparkman

There’s something holding back the Internet of Things (IoT) and it’s not imagination, technology or consumer interest. It’s power. I predict there would be billions of sensors at the heart of the billions of intelligent connected devices in use today if these devices didn’t have to rely on some form of battery for power. That’s a problem. Batteries are costly, toxic to the environment, and require a significant investment to maintain. Further, it takes time, labor and money to replace the billions of batteries around the world in everything from HVAC systems to security systems to aisles and aisles of retail shelves to sensors along every step in an automated factory.

Today, Spansion unveiled a set of energy harvesting power management solutions that will eliminate the need for fixed power sources such as batteries in many IoT components, including microcontrollers, sensors, radio frequency (RF) connectivity, flash memory and power management ICs (PMICs). Energy harvesting is the process of capturing and converting ambient energy – light, vibration, thermal and radio waves – into electricity for a wide range of applications.  And we think it is the future of the IoT. Energy Harvesting Powers IoT

We believe energy harvesting will accelerate innovation in and proliferation of the IoT.  The innovative applications where sensors and intelligent devices can add functionality without requiring expensive or difficult to replace batteries are endless, with many of them yet to be invented.   Consider the benefits:

  • Better for the environment than toxic batteries in our landfills
  • Personal safety. Every year, in the United States alone, more than 3,500 people of all ages swallow miniature disc or “button batteries” causing severe, permanent damage and even fatalities.  When a battery narrows or blocks the esophagus, severe bleeding or abnormal passages from the esophagus to other organs may occur.  Outcomes can be severe and heavy metal poisoning is possible. More than 2,800 are kids who are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries. That’s one child every three hours. The number of serious injuries or deaths as a result of button batteries has increased ninefold in the last decade.
  • Lower maintenance and even operating expenses for not having to pay anyone to replace the batteries in office buildings and factories

We’re proud to launch this new technology and invite you to learn more here or watch our video.  Our unique differentiator is harvesting from multiple sources: vibration and light. We cannot wait to see the early adopters take advantage of the technology to design the next battery-free applications.  We will share the innovations companies are working on with our technology in the future but would love to hear from you. What would you design with energy harvested from the environment?

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