Wirelessly powering the IoT: opportunities & considerations

June 09, 2016 //By Jacob Babcock
Wirelessly powering the IoT: opportunities & considerations
Wireless power is enabling the ever-expansive universe of IoT, providing IoT product designers with an alternative to plugging in - whether it is to recharge a battery ("wireless charging") or to directly power the device ("wireless power").

An example of wireless charging in IoT is digital door locks that recharge when closed. Wireless transmitters are located in the door frame and re-charge the bolting/communication mechanism anytime the door is closed. This replaces the need for changing batteries (a significant cost and environmental issue in hotels, for example) and enables a more seamless integration into homes, hotels and offices.

A wireless power receiver module that is size appropriate
for multiple devices and capable of charging devices
under the Qi and PMA standards up to 5W.

An example of wireless power in IoT is the electronic Smart Retail Label ("SRL") and beaconing technology known as Powershelf. Battery free SRLs ensure accurate pricing and enable retailers to remotely change pricing on any SKU in the store in minutes. The system is powered by wireless power so it eliminates the need for battery disposal or paper price tags, creating significant cost reductions and an attractive carbon footprint friendly solution for retailers focused on environmental sustainability.

When designing in wireless charging/power, designers will have key considerations:

  • Are interoperability standards important? Do you expect users to charge your devices at Starbucks? In their vehicle? If so, you will want to focus on wireless charging solutions that are standards compliant with at least one of the two leading standards, Wireless Power Consortium and AirFuel Alliance. If interoperability is very important, you can find multi-mode solutions that support all standards simultaneously.

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