Energy harvesting and IoT in building automation
There are many definitions flying around the world of technology for what the Internet of Things (IoT) is or what it can do for people and even more impressively, a wide range of numbers that describe the size of the market that the IoT is going to grow into, some of those projections swimming close to the "realm of unbelievable".
Regardless of which definition for the IoT you subscribe to, or what your expectation is in terms of how large the market for the IoT will be in the next decade, IDTechEx research finds that two things are clear:
- The IoT is enabling consumers, buildings, industrial facilities, entire companies even to become "connected". This ubiquitous connectivity is in some cases creating much more data than it can actually find use for but, used the right way, all that data will eventually manage to achieve something that all technology aspires to: make everyday life easier, allowing people to do more of the things that matter to them most.
- In more realistic terms, all this technology proliferation will be creating electronic functionality where it hasn't been previously available, and if we want to avoid "drowning in batteries", energy harvesting has an important role to play, as IDTechEx research findings highlight in the recently launched report on the topic of the IoT, Internet of Things (IoT), Business Opportunities 2015-2025, a conclusion that comes as a result of interviewing many of the movers and shakers of the IoT arena, from Intel, to Samsung, to standards developers and policy makers worldwide.
The Philips Hue personal wireless lighting range of products is probably one of the most interesting examples of commercial solutions that demonstrates both of these conclusions in action: In essence, very simple, "wireless, internet connected" light bulbs, the complete Hue starter kit allows consumers to control light bulbs from a smart phone (up to 50 bulbs can be connected), giving the consumer the ability to play with intensity, dimming, setting timers, alarm clocks, in essence a fully personalized lighting scheme.
Alongside it's increased energy efficiency (Hue bulbs consume up to 80% less power when compared to traditional lightbulbs), the range of products now boasts the Tap battery-free switch for hue wireless bulbs as the latest device that has gone on sale, offering an app-free way to quickly control groups of lights between a set of favorite presets. The circular switch was announced back in March as a way to control Hue devices when a smartphone or tablet is not immediately available. Philips uses kinetic energy harvesting to fuel its low-power ZigBee connection; that means you can mount it on a wall without needing to retrofit wires, or just place it on a coffee table, or carry it in your pocket even, and use it as a portable remote. The device will harvest energy from tapping motion/pushing buttons for all its powering needs.
The Hue Tap from Philips. Source: Philips
Built on an open platform, the Hue devices are open to being used by other smart home/building automation products from other companies, hence fulfilling a requirement for interoperability from the growing smart home market. The tap is currently on the market for about $59.99.
Interoperability: a key word when it comes to unlocking everything that the IoT promises to consumers. Alongside with the ability to connect to legacy systems, secure data transfer to and from the cloud, these are just some of the important and many considerations that IoT solution providers are working on.
After all, the IoT is meant to make everyone's life easier, not complicate it even further.
To find out what some of the most important (global multinational as well as ambitious start up) companies in the world are doing to bring about the advent of IoT, don't miss the IDTechEx event on the topic on the 19th and 20th of November 2014, in Santa Clara, CA, with presentations from companies such as Samsung, AT&T, the Zigbee Alliance, CISCO, Linear Technologies/Dust, to name a few of the currently confirmed participants.