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EnOcean 2.4GHz radio link run by energy-harvesting switch

04 Mar 2014  | Juilen Happich

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EnOcean demonstrated a low-cost, energy-harvesting switch that could power a 2.4GHz radio link, extending the range and versatility of such wireless switches.

"On one side, the 2.4GHz demonstrator consists of a low-cost, energy-harvesting dual switch, integrating a 2.4GHz RF chip for communicating with sensor nodes and an NFC chip to commission the switch," explained Matthias Poppel, EnOcean's COO. "On the other end, a board with a LED light and control electronics receives the On/Off message as you press the first switch, dimming being controlled by the second switch actuator."

The NFC chip allows installers or even consumers to configure the switch through any NFC-enabled smartphone. Because these switches do not require any wiring, and with a communication range of 150m outdoor (and about 20m indoor), the devices could find use in many home automation or industrial applications, but also enable new connected applications.

"For examples in hospitals, a switch could be configured as a portable alert button, sending a personalised message [to] the cell phone of a care worker," said Poppel.

When asked what radio protocol was used, Poppel declined to specify. "At this stage, this is just a study to prove that a simple off-the-shelf energy-harvesting switch can power a radio link in the free ISM band," he said. Cost-wise, Poppel is confident that such switches would match consumers' expectation compared to stick-in-place battery-powered solutions when produced in volume.

The company's study was completed in January, and it is still a bit early to define what the business plan will be, but in principle EnOcean doesn't plan to make this proprietary. It wants to make people aware that battery-less, energy-harvesting actuators can now communicate in the 2.4GHz band, using any of the energy harvesters that are the core of its business.

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