Ultra Low power Wireless Technology for IOT devices

Internet of things already have walked a long way with this digital age and that has empowered IOT ecosystems to plant a firm foot into the mainstream tech arena. Surely, IOT isn’t a buzzword anymore. Technically, the human civilization is experiencing a new wave of internet connectivity where smart IOT devices are governing every action of our daily lives, wirelessly.

So, why low power wireless technology for IOT devices is the need of the hour?

Admittedly, it’s a necessary evil. We are buying more wearables and integrating more and more electronic sensors into our personal lives. Appallingly, this plush smartness is pushing ourselves to blot out more energy from the mother earth. We needed a smarter solution by designing these IoT devices to survive on the least amount of energy. Thus, ultra low power wireless technology for IOT devices is one of the vastly researched branches of science today.

Technically, for selecting an optimum wireless technology for connecting devices, one need to consider these elemental tech factors:

  1. Maximum throughput of the wireless network
  2. Maximum distance of the sensing range of the network
  3. Integration of gateways for web connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks)
  4. And most importantly, Power consumption

Based on these factors, below is a list of technical developments or ways that exist today for designing an ultra low power wireless technology for IOT devices. Before going to the focal point of this article we need to understand one thing that, the most of the smart civilization is known for standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networking devices and standards which are populating most of the smart homes and offices. Here’s the list of those new approaches, not that known, to design the best ultra low powered wireless technology for IOT devices which can feed and communicate them.

RF Energy Harvesting

It’s the process of harvesting radio-frequency energy from the endless wireless and broadcasting networks such as cellular networks, public Wi-Fi stations, and digital cable & TV networks. Simply, It’s the process of generating the low amount of energy packets from thin air.

Electricity is yet to penetrate remote corners of the world such as Jungles, hills, and caves where the joy sheer adventure pushes us to explore. Such RF energy devices like Freevolt and others have developed can be used for different purposes. Such devices can charge our mobiles or GPS at remote locations for maintaining the necessary connectivity with the rest of the world.

Technical points:

  1. Works best with the medium wave frequency band- 530 kHz to 1.6 MHz
  2. Use supercapacitors for energy storage
  3. Can harvest an RF signal from a transmitter placed within the radius of 1 mile from these devices with a network field strength as low as 100 dBu
  4. Maximum voltage output from these devices lies within 2.5V to 2.8V, which is sufficient for the low powered IoT devices.

NFC (Near field control)

This technology is the future of the contactless IOT device and application development ecosystem. It’s a two way communication within a receiver and a transmitter with a thing sensing range. This particular technology is applicable for the smart cards and smartphones for establishing a swipe-free and contact free communication enabling users for a seamless payment transaction or connecting with other digital devices for accessing them.

Technical points:

  1. Working Frequency range — around 13 MHz
  2. Maximum sensing range- 10 cm
  3. Data Transfer Rate — 100 to 400 kbps

6LowPAN (IPv6 low power wireless Personal Area Network)

Chiefly, it’s a network protocol based on IPv6 (internet protocol version 6) technology. It is a more versatile low powered wireless technology for IOT devices as it can work with a wide range of frequency band and physical layers. Moreover, it can also be used to communicate multiple communication platforms such as, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, 802.15.4 wireless communication standard devices and with Sub 1GHz RF devices.

The main working principle of this network is to deliver small IPv6 information packets to other networks over a low powered Wi-Fi network. This network standard has mothered many ultra low powered microcontroller devices, Sub 1GHz RF communication modules and a wide range of motion sensors specifically for environmental assessment projects.

Technical Points:

  1. Robust and scalable design
  2. Self-healing abilities
  3. Ability to work with other network standards like IP, TCP, HTTP, UDP and other websockets
  4. Can work with Bluetooth smart (2.4 GHz) and ultra low powered RF (Sub- 1GHz)

Z-Wave

It’s an ultra low powered RF communication technology dedicated to small network applications like smart home and smart-office design approaches. The main working principle of this type of low powered network is to deliver small data packets in a low-latency communication approach over an ultra low powered wireless network. It can work smarter with sub 1GHz RF frequency band and the same time it can filter itself from the interference of other wifi or similar technologies with a working range of 2.4 GHz.

Technical Points:

  1. Optimal Working frequency — 900 MHz
  2. Working Range- around 30 meters
  3. Data Transfer rate- 9.6 to 100 kbps

Ultra low powered Bluetooth Technology (4.0/4.1)

It’s an ultra low energy wireless technology for IOT devices which consumes the smallest amount of power in comparison to the already existing Bluetooth networking standards. Technically, these devices are designed to survive an entire month or even an entire year on a small coin-cell battery. These devices are the exact integration of its own radio, processor and the Bluetooth firmware interface.

Lately, most of the mobile and even desktop operating system is being designed to support Bluetooth smart ready operations and it’s expected that more than 500 million IOT devices will be powered using this technology.

Technical Points:

  1. Best in class power consumption
  2. Embedded with ultra low energy Bluetooth protocol stack
  3. Working frequency- 2.4 GHz
  4. Working range — 50 to 150 meters
  5. Data transfer- up to 1 Mbps

We admit, that the list isn’t complete as this particular branch of technology is mothering smarter solutions with each passing day. Similar technologies like Zigbee, Thread and Neul are turning more heads and the rest of this can be branded with one hope- ‘possibilities’.

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