Fujitsu Develops World’s Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Fujitsu Develops World's Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Fujitsu Develops World's Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication

Eliminates Need for Battery Replacement. On-site data can be directly transmitted to the cloud across several kilometers just by placing an 82x24x6 mm miniature sensor.

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced development of the world’s smallest sensor that eliminates the need to replace batteries.

The new sensor supports Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) wireless transmission technology that can reach a broad area with low power.

As the spread of IoT systems gains momentum, expectations are rising for sensor devices that support LPWA technology, which can wirelessly transmit sensor information directly to the cloud. In order to create systems that employ this technology, there has been a demand for the development of easy-to-install miniature devices using solar cells to achieve both convenience and low cost, which dispense with the need to replace batteries.

Fujitsu Laboratories previously developed power control technology(1) that can operate a beacon with the power provided just by a solar cell. Conventionally, power output variation of solar cells due to temperature had been tolerated by enlarging the size of energy storage elements. Now, however, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed technology that achieves high power efficiency by controlling signal transmission timing based on the temperature variation measured by a temperature sensor, which makes it possible to reduce the required energy storage elements for signal transmission by half. This has enabled Fujitsu Laboratories to successfully miniaturize the device to a size of 82x24x6 mm, creating the world’s smallest sensor device supporting LPWA that does not need replacement batteries.

In a test of the sensor device using this technology, Fujitsu Laboratories confirmed that the collected temperature and humidity data can be transmitted to a Sigfox(2) base station over a distance of about 7 km. Since it is now possible to acquire measured data even from locations where it is difficult to secure power and install power cables just by placing these sensor devices, the maintenance-free deployment and management of IoT systems has become a reality, accelerating the process of on-site digitalization.

Development Background

The spread of IoT systems has progressed in recent years, and it is predicted that by 2020, several tens of billions of IoT devices will be connected to the cloud through networks. In IoT systems, information collected from multiple sensors installed in the field, need to be transmitted to and analyzed on the cloud, and LPWA has been gaining attention as a wireless technology that can directly transmit data to the cloud with low power consumption across a wide area. From a convenience and cost standpoint there are high hopes for miniaturization, which not only meets the LPWA standards, while utilizing solar cells that eliminate the need for replacement.

Issues

Fujitsu Laboratories has previously developed power control technology using miniature circuits that can transmit data over short distances wirelessly using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This technology realizes sensor devices that support BLE without the need to exchange batteries, providing power with solar cells, and reliably activating a wireless circuit by monitoring and adjusting the balance between power generation and consumption.

Sensor devices using this previous technology, however, could not support LPWA. That’s because the time required for transmission with LPWA is significantly longer than with BLE. LPWA transmits small amounts of data slowly in order to ensure signal quality over long distances. In effect, this means that a single transmission can require significant power usage of up to about 1,500 times of BLE.

About the Newly Developed Technology

Now, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed new power control technology to ensure transmission power while minimizing circuit size. This technology’s advantages are as follows.

1. Power control technology that permits power variations with temperature

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power control technology that can control the timing of LPWA signal transmissions in real time, based on temperature data collected from a temperature sensor. With this technology signal transmissions are only carried out at the time when the activation voltage, which varies with temperature, is maximized in order to prevent it from falling below the minimum operational voltage for LPWA module. By using power efficiently in this way, it is possible to tolerate variation in power consumed by the wireless circuit or power generated by solar cells due to temperature. This eliminates the need for the excess energy storage elements that were previously necessary to respond to power fluctuations, enabling miniaturization of the sensor device with the smallest power storage elements required.

2. Power monitoring technology that reliably activates the temperature sensor

In order for the power control technology to operate reliably, the device must be able to continually and reliably activate the temperature sensor with a small amount of power. To resolve this challenge, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power monitoring technology that analyzes voltage changes in power source, and accurately judges whether or not sufficient power has been stored to operate the temperature sensor. This technology can prevent unnecessary shutdowns of the temperature sensor by using the minimum amount of power based on the temperature.

Effects

This technology was implemented using Sigfox, an LPWA standard, creating the world’s smallest sensor device (82x24x6 mm) supporting LPWA communications without the need to replace batteries.

Fujitsu Laboratories verified that temperature and humidity data could be transmitted once every ten minutes, over seven days directly to a base station about 7 km away, in an environment with illumination of 4,000 lux. Fujitsu Laboratories also verified that the data could be visualized through the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 IoT Platform, Fujitsu Limited’s IoT data utilization platform service, which has received Sigfox Ready Program for IoT PaaS certification as an IoT platform that connects to the Sigfox cloud.

This means that sensor data can easily be acquired in the cloud just by setting sensor devices, even in places where it is difficult to secure power or install power cables. This will enable maintenance-free installation and management of IoT systems, accelerating the process of digitalization in the field.

Future Plans

Fujitsu Laboratories will continue to conduct field trials aimed at the real-world use of these sensor devices, incorporating this technology into the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 IoT Platform and Fujitsu Frontech Limited’s sensor solutions as connected devices, with the goal of commercialization in fiscal 2018. Furthermore, we will continue to develop technologies to miniaturize sensor devices.

Comment from Yoshihito Kurose, President, KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd. (KCCS):

“As the utilization of IoT is expected to continually increase, KCCS predicts that solutions utilizing the low power consumption feature of the Sigfox network will be developed in a variety of industries.”

“KCCS believes that Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.’s development of a sensor device, which does not require battery charging by way that device operation is enabled by a solar battery, will promote the use of Sigfox not only in Japan but around the world.”

“As the Sigfox Operator in Japan, KCCS is working with Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. and other partners to enable everything to be connected to the Sigfox network and is contributing to the creation of a safe and pleasant society.”

[1] Developed power control technology Fujitsu Develops Industry’s First Flexible IoT-Supporting Beacon That Needs No Battery Replacement (press release, March 25, 2015) http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2015/0325-02.html
[2] Sigfox A global IoT network using LPWA provided by Sigfox, a company established in France in 2009. KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd. is the sole network service provider in Japan.

The post Fujitsu Develops World’s Smallest Sensor Device Supporting LPWA Communication appeared first on IoT Business News.

IoT Business News

IoT Podcast: Amazon wants your key and Vodafone wants your sensor data

The Noon lighting system.

This week on The Internet of Things Podcast, hear from Phil Skipper of Vodafone, who discusses the details of building a low power wide area network using cellular. Skipper is betting on NB-IoT, and he explains the role it will play compared with Cat M and even alternatives like LoRa. He also discusses how companies are using, securing and pricing NB-IoT services. You’ll learn a lot about new business models for IoT in this conversation.

But first, Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel discuss Amazon offering a connected camera and door lock combo to enfold Prime Members even more deeply into the ecosystem and Wink launching a new security package for its members. They also discuss Noon, which launches Thursday. And because today ends in Y, you’ll also hear a security story with Reaper as well as ARM’s new IoT security effort.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Engineers unveil robot with flexible sensor ‘skin’

Robot with flexible sensor skin developed

In a significant step for robotics, engineers from the University of Washington and UCLA have developed a flexible sensor-filled membrane or ‘skin’ that opens the door to critical advancements in how robots grip and manipulate objects.

For all the apparent precision and dexterity of modern robotics technology, there’s scope for vast improvements when it comes to robots sensing what they are handling and making necessary adjustments.

While we’ve previously reported on how humans are reassured by the fallibility of awkward robots, if one happens to be performing surgery, or even simply handling breakable objects, there’s a strong incentive for a more human level of care.

Read more: Number of service robots to reach 264 million by 2026

Drawing on bio-inspiration

Scientists often turn to the natural world when problem solving – to draw upon solutions that evolution has had millions of years to refine. From camouflage to locomotion, nature offers a rich vein of inspiration. This latest research produced a sensor skin that mimics the way our own fingers experience tension and compression.

“It’s really following the cues of human biology,” said lead author Jianzhu Yin. “Our electronic skin bulges to one side just like the human finger does.”

The flexible sensor layer is formed by embedding serpentine channels, half the width of a human hair, into silicone rubber. These pathways contain conductive liquid metal that can be manipulated in a way that would break solid wires. As the channel geometry changes, so too does the amount of electricity that can flow through them.

robot sensor skin

The bio-inspired sensor skin

Read more: CSAIL team pairs robots with VR for smart manufacturing

Entering uncanny valley

The sensor skin can be stretched over any part of a robot’s body or prosthetic to relay data about shear forces and vibration that is vital to handling objects. The new technology uses what’s known as a ‘multimodal’ approach to enable dexterous manipulation. Unlike past tactile sensor designs, the skin incorporates normal forces, shear forces and vibration.

This wealth of extra data creates new possibilities for machine-learning – ultimately leading to robots that are more aware and therefore more capable. Once robots can sense like we do, they need to be able to similarly react and adapt.

“If a robot is going to dismantle an improvised explosive device, it needs to know whether its hand is sliding along a wire or pulling on it,” says senior author and UW professor Jonathan Posner. “To hold on to a medical instrument, it needs to know if the object is slipping. This all requires the ability to sense shear force, which no other sensor skin has been able to do well.”

We may be some way off the technology seen in science fiction films such as Ex Machina, but as social cognizance advances in robots, alongside physical detection and response, we continue along the path to uncanny valley.

The post Engineers unveil robot with flexible sensor ‘skin’ appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

What To Do With All Of The IoT Sensor Data Your Business Is Collecting

From life-saving supplies to take-out pizza, IoT-powered services can deliver incredible monitoring capabilities to businesses and their customers, tracking products in transit, as well as driver behavior. I recently saw a demonstration of how sensor-based navigation can disrupt business and industries using IoT-based services operating anywhere – within vast warehouses, across oceans, and on streets, trains, and planes.

Designed as a game on the show floor at the SAP TechEd event, developers were challenged to “drive” a miniature, sensor-tagged vehicle through a maze as fast as possible without bumping into the sides of the enclosure. The challenge was created to mirror the obstacles companies face competing in a hyper-connected world, and Joe Binkley, senior director, SAP Cloud Platform Marketing, gave me the inside story during our interview.

“This is a fun way for us to demonstrate a serious business problem. If your business is delivering precious goods, whether it’s fine china or schoolchildren on a school bus, having the ability to monitor the process by which they travel to their destination is huge,” said Binkley. “In our challenge, the vehicle is a lot more fun to drive than a school bus or a delivery van, but the premise is the same. Companies can use technologies like robotics and IoT to change business processes and digitally transform their business.”

Tracking smartens business

During the event, a scoreboard displayed data uploaded from the sensors on the vehicle as it traveled through the maze, including how many times the delivery vehicles bumped against the walls of the maze, and how long it took to reach the finish line. This is the kind of tracking businesses can use every day.

“In the real world, a business would have a scoreboard monitoring their van or business drivers, collecting and acting on data showing whether the goods are at the right temperature or in the right places as scheduled,” said Binkley. “Sensors could also monitor if a driver was fatigued or the vehicle was in danger of breaking down, sending alerts to take steps that would prevent problems.” He added that the vehicle was built using the SAP Cloud Platform service, Rapid-Application Development by Mendix (RAD), part of SAP’s growing set of IoT-based services.

Industry estimates predict billions of IoT-based sensors will surround us by 2020. Making business sense of all that data is the next challenge.

Learn more about How Sensors Will Redefine Business and Our World.

This story also appeared on the SAP Community.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

The Internet of Life and Kerlink saves Black rhinos via sensor implants in horns

The mainstream media mostly projects IoT in terms of smart home and autonomous vehicles. However, there’s more to the IoT technology then the making devices and machines run better and faster. The Internet of Life, an organization that applies modern technology to improve quality of life for endangered species has implanted LoRaWANTM-equipped sensors into the horns of black rhinos in Tanzania.

The solution will help save the endangered Black rhinos from poachers. The park rangers will use the LoRaWan-based solution for near-real-time monitoring and activity tracking of rhinos and other large mammals. The location data of rhinos is updated a couple of times every hour. The system also shows the location of all the rhinos in the national park.

Placing a location tracker inside the horn of a Rhino

Kerlink and SamTech supported the project implemented in Tanzania. SamTech is a key company behind LoRa technology and offers the technology baked within its chipsets which can then be made part of IoT applications.

They have taken the LoRa® network technology as a foundation to build a private network infrastructure

Usually, the IoT solutions deployed in open and rugged environments need to have long range and low power connectivity. This is where LoRa’s wireless technology offers 15-30 km range of connectivity coupled with low-cost, low-power, and availability of open standards to develop IoT solutions.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things