For a larger part of terminals and sensors in the Internet of things world, due to the large number and wide distribution of nodes, it is difficult to replace batteries in many applications, or they cannot directly rely on batteries for power supply, which makes the limited power supply become a “roadblock” for their landing. Therefore, it must be realized in the form of “Batter Free Internet of things“.
For a larger part of terminals and sensors in the Internet of things world, due to the large number and wide distribution of nodes, it is difficult to replace batteries in many applications, or they cannot directly rely on batteries for power supply, which makes the limited power supply become a “roadblock” for their landing. Therefore, it must be realized in the form of “Batter Free Internet of things”.
In the future, the Internet of things will be everywhere. Every piece of clothing, every package, every key… Almost all offline items will be online under the power of the Internet of things technology. But at the same time, the process of realizing the interconnection of all things has also brought great challenges to the industry. The first is the problem of power supply. For every object in the Internet of things world, power supply is as important as “life” to people. Losing power supply means its “death”.
From this point of view, many IOT terminals and sensors need to maintain their “life” through wired connection or batteries that are replaced from time to time. However, for a larger part of terminals and sensors in the IOT world, due to the large number and wide distribution of nodes, it is difficult to replace batteries in many applications, or they cannot be powered directly by batteries, This makes the limited power supply a “roadblock” for its landing, so it must be realized in the form of “Batter Free Internet of things”.
What is Batter Free Internet of things
As the name suggests, Batter Free Internet of things can be battery free in network nodes, that is, the nodes themselves are not equipped with or mainly rely on battery / wired power supply. Of course, the fact that the Batter Free Internet of things does not use power does not mean that it does not need electricity. It obtains energy from the environment, so as to support the perception of Internet of things data, wireless transmission and distributed computing.
Passive IOT technology is one of the key technologies that can really cover 100 billion IOT nodes. Therefore, the industry has always paid close attention to the related development of passive IOT.
From a technical point of view, energy collection is not a new thing. The industry began the R & D and application of this kind of technology many years ago. For the Internet of things, with the large-scale application of wireless sensor networks, energy collection technology, as a sustainable and green power supply mode, also provides a feasible solution for its development. Although the energy collected and converted into electric energy is not much, it is also fully sufficient for ultra-low power consumption Internet of things nodes. At present, there are several sources of energy collection, including ambient light, vibration, heat or RF.
However, because the energy of passive IOT nodes is not inherent, and the nodes collect energy from the environment for energy and electricity conversion through wireless, there are some limitations. In order to realize data perception, wireless transmission and distributed computing, they must be limited by energy.
Specifically, the Batter Free Internet of things includes the following features:
Energy oscillation. The energy of passive IOT nodes is no longer a single static change trend from high to low. Because the energy comes from the environment, it will show a dynamic state of high and low.
Node imbalance. There are randomness and instability in energy acquisition in passive IOT nodes. The energy distribution in the whole network may not be balanced, which will also lead to the difference of each node.
Energy constraints. The Batter Free Internet of things obtains energy in different ways, and the collected environmental energy is very weak, generally from nanowatts (NW) to microwatts（ μ W) And is affected by the power storage capacity of the node.Connection uncertainty. The connectivity of passive IOT nodes is affected by the energy of each node.
Therefore, in the process of core tasks of IOT nodes, how to save energy and improve task efficiency is no longer the first priority. How to use the current energy of nodes to complete as many data sensing, transmission and computing tasks as possible is its primary goal.
It can be simply understood that the Batter Free Internet of things is a wireless network with “energy as the center and data as the core”.
Why do you need Batter Free Internet of things
Recently, a start-up company named wiliot obtained a round C financing of US $200 million led by Softbank vision fund, which made the concept of Batter Free Internet of things popular again. If we dig into its background, we will find that the investment institution of the company, which has only been established for four years, is not only Softbank, but also the shadow of a number of technology giants such as Qualcomm, Samsung, AWS, NTT DoCoMo and Verizon.
Why do they value such a trivial “small business”? The answer is simple. Wiliot’s products represent an important direction for the future large-scale development of the Internet of things, and these companies have long focused on this cake. As we all know, the Internet of things is mainly divided into three different speed gears: high-speed IOT, medium speed IOT and narrow-band IOT. Among them, the pyramid distribution accounting for “10% – 30% – 60%” has become the consensus of the industry.
Among them, the high-speed IOT is mainly carried by 5g embB and LTE cat. 4 +, the medium speed gear is mainly carried by LTE cat. 1, and the largest narrowband IOT is carried by NB IOT and Lora. But these are based on active Internet of things technology. Together, these technologies can only support a 10 billion internet of things connection, and the next thing to face is the pain point of the 100 billion internet of things connection market.
On the one hand, a large number of items do not have the conditions for battery power supply.
In the past, lpwan technologies such as NB IOT were aimed at a large number of scenarios where only low-frequency and small data packets were sent but power supply was inconvenient, such as water meter, gas meter, smoke detector, etc. However, even so, usually a small battery will be implanted in the lpwan module to supply power, which can basically do without replacing the battery for several years or even 10 years.
However, there are also a large number of items that are limited by low cost or do not have the conditions of battery power supply, such as some fast-moving products, logistics packages, product packaging, warehouse inventory, etc.
On the other hand, many industries have management needs for their massive cheap goods, but limited by multiple factors such as product volume and cost, the way of active Internet of things is not suitable.
Taking the logistics industry as an example, the data show that the express business volume in China will be 83 billion pieces in 2020. It is obviously not feasible to use NB IOT, Lora and other technologies to launch each express. It must be realized by cheaper and Batter Free Internet of things technologies. Therefore, from the development trend of Internet of things connection, especially in the face of the demand for “online” of massive items, Batter Free Internet of things technology will be a main driving force.