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Battery-free smart home adoption? It’s possible

The time of the smart home is now. A staggering 1.15 billion annual shipments of Bluetooth smart home devices are expected by 2023 with connected home devices exceeding home automation by a ratio of three-to-one, according to a 2019 Bluetooth market update. It’s no longer science fiction to control lighting or regulate a home’s temperature with a voice command or pressing a button on a smart phone. Smart home technology today has become widely accepted and accessible.

While voice assistants are one of the most common smart home automation and entertainment devices for homeowners and property managers, there are many other emerging technologies that make up the average smart home. Specifically, there are three core categories for smart home technology, each of which feature examples of connected devices that require an increasing number of batteries:

  • Home entertainment: Remotes, voice assistants and audio systems
  • Home utilities: Connected refrigerators and washing machines
  • Home automation: Security systems, sprinklers and thermostats

Why is this important? As the growing number of wireless devices increases so does the number of batteries needed to power them. As consumers increasingly use more batteries, the financial and environmental costs of replacing them will rise, too.

The majority of IoT devices are connected wirelessly to the Internet via sources like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or ZigBee. Wi-Fi is most commonly used for high input applications and streaming data on connected devices and ZigBee is a two-step connection requiring a hub that connects devices to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Bluetooth, with advanced BLE or Bluetooth 5, enables long, Wi-Fi-like range in the home and compatibility with smart phones, laptops, earphones and other devices.

The chosen source is vital as we look to examples within the emerging smart home categories. For example, home security devices have portable sensors that run with batteries and connect to security systems via Bluetooth.

The battery dilemma

Because most sensors are constantly online and communicating information regularly, their batteries are always powered on, which results in decreased battery life. This, in turn, results in more battery changes or larger batteries that will also need to be replaced way too often. Homeowners or property managers then must consistently monitor for low batteries or risk losing the protection and peace of mind a security device provides.

This is a prevalent issue across several connected in-home devices, such as automated door locks, automated sprinkler systems, temperature sensors and more. These battery-powered devices are not able to use rechargeable batteries due to current U.S. regulations. With the option of rechargeable out of the picture, homeowners and property managers are again faced with the dilemma of battery replacement.

Imagine a world in which extended battery life is the norm. A world in which you replace batteries every few years or even the entire life of the device; not every few months. Technologies like Atmosic’s M2 and M3 Series solutions can help remedy these challenges.

Leveraging multiple sources of power, such as radio frequency, thermal, light and mechanical, to harvest energy will be able to effectively power the increasing number of smart home devices. With the prospect of extending battery life or eliminating batteries altogether, we will be able to greatly reduce the financial burden and environmental impact that comes with battery replacements.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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