The High Potency of Low Power in the IoT Ecosystem

The network characteristics of IoT based on wireless technologies are quite different from those for traditional wired or wireless networks because the number of devices participating in communication is very large. Also, traffic per IoT device is typically not so big because each IoT device senses and transfers a small amount of data to a corresponding IoT server. Although data generated from a huge number of objects may collectively have some impact on the network performance. Furthermore, IoT networks should operate stably and sustainably for a longer period without any need for human intervention.

Although the backbone architecture of networks hogs the limelight in a typical IoT program, the actual driver to a successful deployment of the network hinges on the devices at the edge. This “edge effect” is amplified given the numbers, and the challenge is exacerbated when the connectivity and computing being wireless. Just imagine if these have to be kept charged, imagine the form factor of the devices and the energy bills to the boot.

So these "edge devices" or the “IoT end points” need to be extremely inexpensive, with minimal form factor with low or no demands for power, and the need to be autonomous (untouched by human command). The ideal situation would be to make these edge devices run on any electricity (or provide access to foraged electrical energy from heat, motion, light that could be converted to electrical energy.

So the device should have the capability to may be work for a decade powered by a small battery and/or through the energy foraged from the ambiance it is operating in as mentioned above

Here the aggressive R&D on Low Power or No Power devices (LO-NO-PO) makes a grand entry to address this conundrum smartly.

When the operating voltage decreases, the similar power consumed drops and so also the performance. While this may adversely impact one's music system, but this is what is required precisely for an “edge device.”

Exploiting this has led to the emergence of “subthreshold “processing. This technique allows the microcontroller to run from a voltage supply lower than the transistor’s switching voltage. The solution which is being perfected is Sub Threshold Power Optimised Technology (SPOT) which has been pioneered by companies like Ambiq and Minima aided by university led the academic research.

While these products are getting ready to come to a mainstream, they are addressing some of the challenges of making the devices less sensitive to factors like temperature, noise, and other environmental factors.

 

SOMJIT AMRITThis article was written by Somjit Amrit, Head of IoT & Data Analytics Business Unit at Opterna-AM, and originally was published here. Over the last 25 years, Somjit Amrit has been fortunate to be an integral part of teams which have incubated business across a wide spectrum of industries namely IT & BPM Services, and Internet of Things (IoT) and Analytics. He has been successful in conceptualizing business opportunities and scaling them into self-sustained businesses.

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