The main subject of the research is the design and implementation of wireless nodes for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is carried out within the framework of an Industrial Doctorate program of the Generalitat de Catalunya. This research is developed at the company Idneo Technologies S.L. jointly with the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.
Several initiatives rely on Internet of Things as enabling technologies. Energy is often the major job stopper for broad adoption of this technology. Two main alternatives are addressed for providing energy to the IoT node: the use of primary batteries or environmental energy harvesting. Primary batteries lead to simpler designs but have a limited energy budget. Their use is feasible whenever the available energy is enough to power the IoT node during a fair period of time. Contrariwise, energy harvesting leads to more complex designs but the available energy is unlimited. However, the available average power is limited and needs to be higher than the average power required by the IoT node.
In addition, an optimal power consumption of the node is needed. This is achieved by using low-power devices, circuit designs that maximize the standby energy consumption and implementing software techniques that minimize the duty cycle of the node.
At the same time, communications are needed in order to transmit the information to other nodes or a cloud platform. Different standards are used, such as Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, cellular, etc. However, they add size, power consumption and cost. Visible Light Communication (VLC) using LEDs is addressed, which allows implementing a low-cost and low-consumption communication.
This research is useful both for business economy and for the environment. It is important for the business economy because the IoT systems tend to be spread and may not be under control; therefore, maintenance such as replacing a battery is either not possible or economically not feasible. It benefits the environment by increasing the lifetime of the node, thus decreasing the waste of drained batteries.
Finally, all projects addressed in this research are fully market oriented, from the initial technology research to the final product design and validation. In particular, this work is carried out within the European project “EnSO” (Energy for Smart Objects). This European project has been accepted for funding within the Electronic Components and Systems For European Leadership Joint Undertaking in collaboration with the European Union’s H2020 Framework Programme (H2020/2014-2020) and National Authorities.