This sensors only measures 2 square millimeters in length. Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology have created a tiny sensor that never needs a battery. (via Eidnhoven)
Having all these smart devices in our hands – in the field – is convenient, fun, and efficient except when it comes time to recharge the battery. Maybe you don't have enough outlets or maybe you're out and forgot your battery bank at home. We're always looking for faster, better ways of charging up; a group of Dutch researchers may have the answer. Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology have built a tiny (2 square millimeters) wireless temperature sensor that powers up via radio waves that make up its wireless network. What this means is the sensor doesn't need a single wire or a battery that needs to be replaced.
The sensor is equipped with a special made router and an antenna that sends radio waves to power up the device. Right now the sensor doesn't have a very far range reaching only 2.5 centimeters meaning the device can't be further than inch from its host. The team is aware of this limitations and are hoping to extend the reach to almost 10 feet within a year and eventually to 16 feet. Aside from this the sensor has several benefits to it.
For one the router in the device doesn't use a lot of electricity since the energy transfer is directly aimed at the sensor. The sensor itself doesn't consume a lot of electricity making sure those bills don't get any higher. The sensor can also operate under a layer of paint, plaster, or concrete making it easy to incorporate into buildings to make them smarter. The idea behind the smart building is the sensors will respond to the needs of residents. For example, heating and lighting will turn on only when someone is in the room. And that's only one of many possibilities for smart sensors.
The sensor is so small, how does it actually store the energy? The antenna on the device traps the energy from the router. The sensor then stores the energy and turns it on, measures the temperature, and sends a signal to the router once there's enough power. The signal has a distinctive frequency that allows the router to deduce the temperature.
The team has plans for this technology that goes beyond smart buildings. For one it can enable wireless sensors to be made that can measure movement, light, and humidity. Similar devices can also be used for smart payment systems, industrial production systems, and even wireless identification. As a plus the sensors won't be expensive either. Mass production will keep the cost down to around 20 cents. Keeping that in mind it shouldn't break the bank to make the switch. Until the technology is ready for the masses, we'll have to make sure to keep those power banks by our side.
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