5.8 GHz -Bleeding Edge Technology

Bio: Christopher R. Valenta is a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a member of ‘The Propagation Group,’ Christopher helped to commercialize the first 5.8 GHz backscatter sensor system for use in high-voltage environments and has developed numerous technologies for RFID-enabled sensors.
Group website: www.propagation.gatech.edu

1.) Why RFID for sensing?

Radio frequency Identification (RFID) is beneficial for sensing applications because of the simplistic, low-cost (few cents), and low-profile design. Passive, or battery-free, tags harvest energy from the environment and are able to power sensors and the RFID chip itself. This operation is possible as there is no transmitter on the tag. Instead, the RFID relies on reflecting radio waves sent from an RFID reader, also known as backscatter communication. This allows the RFID to send data with powers down to pico-Watts per bit.

2.) Tell us a little about your work in RFID-enabled sensors at Georgia Tech and elsewhere?

Our group [The Propagation Group] at Georgia Tech is one of the only labs in the world who work with 5.8 GHz RFID. The majority of RFID/RFID-enabled sensor work occurs in the high frequency (HF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands. Since 5.8 GHz is relatively unused, we’ve had to build our entire RFID system from the ground up. By doing this, we’ve been able to exploit some of the benefits of microwave frequencies and cater the design towards RFID-based sensor applications.

3.) What makes 5.8 GHz unique in terms of design and application?

5.8 GHz has a range of benefits due to its short wavelength and regulatory status. First, the short wavelength allows us to make very small antennas compared to lower frequencies. Since antenna size typically dominates the sensor size, our sensors can be smaller than ones at lower frequencies. Additionally, 5.8 GHz is an international band with a large available bandwidth. Other RFID bands vary from country to country so readers have to cater to this.

4.) What’s the 5.8 Ghz sweet spot or killer application?

5.8 GHz could have applications in a variety of areas. Situations that require a tag have a small footprint would be especially suited for microwave RFID. Also, high data rate applications would benefit from the large available bandwidth available. Our research has also noted the unique plasma penetrating ability of 5.8 GHz RFID which makes it suited for high-voltage monitoring applications in the smart grid.

5.) What do you see as the future of this space? Do you notice any identifiable gaps in the industry that will require further R&D?

The biggest hurdle right now for 5.8 GHz is the lack of inexpensive semiconductor processes. While there are microwave parts available for RFID, they are typically expensive, inefficient, and incompatible with modern CMOS processes. Thus, there are hurdles in commercializing a low-cost, microwave RFID integrated circuit for the mass market.

6.) What do you think are the hottest technologies in the world of wireless sensor networks?

There’s been a lot of focus in the RFID and sensors community working with nano materials. Merging these technologies together is bound to have a tremendous impact on the military, healthcare, and consumer market because of the unique sensing abilities that nano materials can bring. There has also been a lot of attention towards localization of RFID-enabled sensors. Being able to simultaneously record sensor data and position can be extremely beneficial in certain applications.

7.) What gets your team most excited moving forward?

Our lab is motivated by the uniqueness of the research we are pursuing. There aren’t many other universities or research groups working at 5.8 GHz, so we real feel like pioneers in this regard.

Army Ships Next-Gen Blast Sensors | Military.com

Army Ships Next-Gen Blast Sensors | Military.com.

Laundry Machines Connected to the Web

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Laundry Efficiencies | FacilityBlog.

Q&A with CEO of Enocean Alliance

MeshSensors.com sat down with industry veteran Graham Martin to to talk about the world of wireless energy harvesting sensors and his company, Enocean Alliance.

Graham Martin is the Chairman & CEO of EnOcean Alliance Inc. He is a veteran in the semiconductor industry with 25 years experience in wireless solutions at various Engineering, Sales and Marketing positions in USA, GB, Germany, Austria and Norway. Before joining EnOcean he was a worldwide pioneer in low power wireless sensor networks at leading start-up Chipcon (purchased 2006 by Texas Instruments) where he conducted the worldwide business development activities, served as President of Figure8Wireless and was Vice Chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. Graham studied in USA and GB and is a Physics Graduate from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Q: Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit about the history and focus of Enocean Alliance?

A: The EnOcean Alliance was formed in 2008 and is a consortium of companies working to further develop and promote self-powered wireless monitoring and control systems for sustainable buildings by creating the interoperable wireless standard. The EnOcean Alliance has the largest installed base of field-proven wireless building automation networks in the world.  The energy harvesting wireless technology behind the eco-system was developed in the 1990s at Siemens and spun out under EnOcean in 2001.  Since then there are over 300 companies in the Alliance, there are over 1000 interoperable products and over 250.000 building projects successfully installed with the technology.  The technology is now the only international standard for energy harvesting wireless technology – the IEC/ISO 14543-3-10.

Q: What are the major trends you foresee in the wireless networking space? What do you foresee as the future or cutting edge of sensor networks?

People have now realized that battery failure and maintenance are key restrictions in many wireless networking applications such as smart home, building automation and industrial.  Maintenance free energy harvesting powered sensors and switches are therefore becoming the most popular in many application areas.

EnOcean is the Energy Harvesting Wireless Standard for Building Automation.

Q: What do you see as the biggest gap in this space? Where is there room for innovation?

Many wireless sensor systems are very complicated for the installer and / or user and many still require regular battery maintenance.  Batteries fail at different points in time, batteries need stocking, replacing and disposal. Battery failure can cause system failure.  Very often it is difficult to obtain access to the sensor to change the battery – often the maintenance is more expensive than the original sensor cost.  Innovation will therefore continue to come from creating absolutely lowest power systems enabling batteryless operation or battery lifetimes that outlive the sensors.

Q: What’s the “killer application” or “sweet spot” for the wireless sensor industry?

Smart homes and building automation are becoming a sweet spot.  Buildings use over 40% of our total energy requirements.   Most countries have programs in place to reduce energy consumption and CO2 output.  Wireless sensors are essential to energy efficient buildings and smart homes.

Q: Tell us a little about how you got into the world of wireless sensors.

I personally have been working in the wireless industry for almost 25 years, working actively in creating GSM, ZigBee, Z-Wave, EnOcean and proprietary solutions.  The EnOcean founders in 2001 realized that for numerous applications battery maintenance would be a major issue in the success of wireless sensors, so they set out to create a technology to eliminate the batteries.  All other wireless sensor systems such as ZigBee, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Wireless HART are relatively power hungry so are not suitable for batteryless operation, so EnOcean and subsequently the EnOcean Alliance created the international standard for energy harvesting (batteryless) wireless sensors – the IEC/ISO 14543-3-10.

Q: What’s your take on the use of TV White Space for sensor telemetry? What do you see as the biggest hurdles for TVWS to be used in sensor networks?

We have spent 10 years creating wireless sensors in the sub 1GHz band for batteryless operation with significant successes primarily at 315MHz and 868MHz.  Obviously sub 1GHz is ideal for maximum range and wireless sensor performance, but once you get below around 250MHz additional factors begin to become challenging such as antenna size and interference from various harmonics.

Q: What are you most proud of at Enocean Alliance? What wireless companies get you most excited moving forward?

We are proud because we have created the only wireless sensor technology which is completely battery and maintenance free, established this as an international standard and have the most amount of interoperable products and building automation deployments than any other low power wireless standard.  The technology founder EnOcean GmbH is certainly one to watch.



Omron sensor can do security and hot-soup checks (w/ Video)

Omron sensor can do security and hot-soup checks (w/ Video).

Sensor Networks Could End Parking Rage – Technology Review

Applications for M2M sensors in the world of parking are extremely valuable. Parking discrepancies for many years costed city and municipalities governments millions of dollars with ticketed car owners protesting and clogging the court system with parking fine appeals. The parking attendant industry has long been known for keeping “two different sets of books” with employee theft and risk management services.

About 20-40 companies came up with solar/externally powered parking meters for monitoring and ticketing purposes. Parking companies were able to assign one parking attendant to attend to 5 square miles simultaneously.

Now the progress in this space is directed towards a Smart parking network with taking parking capacity data, finding open spots, and decrease fuel consumption. M2M technology advances the direction from functional to optimal service for attendees.

Sensor Networks Could End Parking Rage – Technology Review.

Bluetooth Vs. Zigbee

BlueTooth and Zigbee are duking it out for the home automation market and wireless sensor market.

Predictions by ABI Research expect over 1 Billion Bluetooth devices by 2016 while Zigbee would lag far behind at 350 Million.

Bluetooth and Zigbee on Collision Course in the Connected Home and Wireless Sensors | Press Release | ABI Research.

Bill Ford: A future beyond traffic gridlock | Video on TED.com

Bill Ford: A future beyond traffic gridlock | Video on TED.com.

Bill Ford talks about the future of solving gridlock problems with smart grid and sensor technologies. There are companies in the MeshSensors.com database that have parking sensor technologies.

Santa Monica Parking Meters’ New Sensors Prevent Drivers From Feeding Meters For More Time

Parking Meters with sensors in action.

Santa Monica Parking Meters' New Sensors Prevent Drivers From Feeding Meters For More Time.

U.S. Army Orders More Helmet Sensors for Screening of Head and Brain Injuries – MarketWatch

The US military orders helmets with sensors to detect head and brain injuries.

U.S. Army Orders More Helmet Sensors for Screening of Head and Brain Injuries – MarketWatch.

Libelium | Smart Parking Sensor Platform enables city motorists save time and fuel

Libelium’s smart parking platform allows for parking management solutions to city councils.

Libelium | Smart Parking Sensor Platform enables city motorists save time and fuel.

Twine, A Tiny Gizmo That Holds The Internet’s Future | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

A Twine puck filled with sensors.

Twine, A Tiny Gizmo That Holds The Internet's Future | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Carlo Ratti: Architecture that senses and responds | Video on TED.com

Carlo Ratti directs the MIT SENSEable City Lab, which explores the “real-time city” by studying the way sensors and electronics relate to the built environment. He’s opening a research center in Singapore as part of an MIT-led initiative on the Future of Urban Mobility.

Carlo Ratti: Architecture that senses and responds | Video on TED.com.

24 Million Industrial Wireless Sensing Points in 2016, Says ON World | Virtual-Strategy Magazine

The world of industrial wireless sensor networks is set to grow rapidly in the coming years with the Oil & Gas vertical set to the be highest area of growth.

24 Million Industrial Wireless Sensing Points in 2016, Says ON World | Virtual-Strategy Magazine.

Omron launches Pressure Sensor product

Innovative Pressure Sensor by Omron
Omron, a $50+ Billion Japanese company with over 50 years of history in industrial automation launched a pressure sensor innovation today. Smaller, cheaper, more accurate.

Using specialized knowledge of CMOS process and MEMS technologies that Omron has cultivated over many years, the Omron has also been able to integrate pressure sensors, analogue amplifier circuits, digital processing circuits, non-volatile memory, etc. onto single chips.

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