Archive for December, 2015

Dutch Scientists Invent Sensor Powered by Radio Waves

The Internet of Things just got a big boost: Dutch scientists just engineered a chip about the size of a tiny bread crumb that is powered completely by radio waves. These tiny chips measure temperature, air, light and pollution and have been placed all around smart homes, offices, and cities.

netherlands“We don’t want hundreds of these sensors around our homes if we have to go around swapping the batteries all the time,” said lead researched Professor Peter Baltus. For that reason, the Dutch have made these 2 sq nm sensors that weigh 1.6 mg and yet contain an antenna that captures energy from a wireless router. Once the sensor captures and stores enough energy, it is able to measure temperature and send a signal back to the router.

Though the actual use of this particular piece of technology is not very exciting, the step forward that it presents in the IoT industry (in that it is a tiny gadget hooked into a router that constantly and wirelessly provides data) is very exciting. Devices like this could also advance security efforts and potentially help old people.

Many have been wondering exactly what the sensor is made of, questions which have prompted a determined, if stoic silence from the Dutch inventors. They are not interested in disclosing any details that may put their reputations or the reputation of their companies danger.

dutchThe chip has a tiny range; its sensors only detect temperature within 2.5 cm of the device. However, researchers believe it’s likely that the range will be able to be extended to 1m. Baltus shoots in the dark: “Theoretically it can work up to 5m.”

The sensor can operate even from beneath a layer of paint, plastic or concrete, so it’s easily incorporated into the architecture of buildings and street infrastructure.

Each chip costs only 20 cents to produce, yet another clever engineering aspect of the device.

The IoT market is one of the most widely predicted to explode. Gartner predicts that cities will have 1.6 billion connected things, 518 million smart buildings, and one billion smart homes by 2016. That means that if you want to invest in anything, it should likely be the computer chip that determines how hot it is within a 2cm range. After all, if Baltus is telling the truth, it may well measure the temperature in a 5m diameter.