OTA wireless power charges Bluetooth beacon for smart IoT

Two companies have collaborated to demonstrate wireless charging of a Bluetooth beacon over a distance of 120 feet (36.5m), paving the way for battery- and maintenance-free long range smart IoT sensor systems, said Powercast.

The company specialises in radio frequency (RF) -based over the air (OTA) wireless power technology and has teamed up with InPlay, the company that invented the programming-free, inexpensive, low power Bluetooth sensor, NanoBeacon SoC. 

Powercast’s RF-to-DC power harvesting technology is used to power InPlay’s active Bluetooth sensor IN100, the first of its NanoBeacon SoC family. The battery-free Bluetooth Low Energy sensor beacon can communicate using only micro Watts together enabling battery-free, maintenance-free, long-range smart IoT sensor systems

The resulting long range wireless IoT sensor systems can be deployed for monitoring in the retail, medical, warehousing and industrial IoT markets, Powercast proposed.

Previously documented to power sensors over 80 feet, Powercast’s far-field wireless technology has now powered the NanoBeacon IN100 from 120 feet away from the commercially-available PowerSpot transmitter, enabling a beacon signal every minute. NanoBeacon’s low power design features fast start-up and data transmission using only micro Watts of power. As the NanoBeacon moves farther from Powercast’s RF transmitter, beacon signals become less frequent, and moving it closer allows more frequency if the application requires it.

The new distance achievement is also due to Powercast’s new reference design for its PCC110 Powerharvester chip and companion PCC210 boost converter, which join forces to harvest RF out of the air with up to 75 per cent efficiency.

Powercast and InPlay will demonstrate the low power, battery-free, maintenance-free combination at the Sensors Converge Conference in San Jose, California, USA. The Powercast booth is 641 and InPlay is at booth 333. In both booths, visitors will see  Powercast’s RF-to-DC power harvesting technology powering InPlay’s active Bluetooth sensor IN100. The NanoBeacon SoC can be attached to nearly anything for real-time location monitoring, and paired with sensors to monitor conditions such as light, humidity and temperature, said InPlay.

“Powercast’s and InPlay’s technologies combine to make every microwatt of power count in efficient and green IoT networks powered over the air, now at unprecedented distances, without batteries,” said Charles Goetz, CEO of Powercast. “Together we are advancing the IoT, creating the opportunity for new battery-free sensor types, low-power intelligent endpoints, and smart tracking tags used in retail, asset tracking and industrial sensing.”

InPlay’s NanoBeacon SoC family aims to make smart sensor systems using active RFID technology affordable and easy to deploy, via Bluetooth Low Energy. It can be configured via an app, requires no software programming, transmits data up to 300 feet (91m) and features software-defined radio (SDR) edge networking to connect tens of thousands of IoT devices.

“Maintaining billions of battery-powered IoT devices in the field is an expensive challenge, but with Powercast’s technology, our customers can design battery-free wireless sensors to avoid downtime and maintenance issues,” said Jason Wu, co-founder and CEO of InPlay. He added that the technology is easy and affordable to deploy compared with traditional RFID deployments which normally require technical experts. “Now customers can also eliminate battery maintenance, and monitor more asset conditions when adding sensors to the system,” said Wu.



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