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Standards Are Set For Wireless Sensor Networks And Energy Harvesting

THE POTENTIALLY HUGE MARKET for wireless sensor networks (WSN) is being enabled by energy harvesters, new energy storage solutions, and ultra-low-power electronics. For many applications, the market for WSN may involve billions of sensors that could realize 20-yr. life spans with no maintenance. However, according to the report, "Wireless Sensor Networks and Energy Harvesting Standards" by Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, these systems need to be appropriately standardized in order for the industry to move beyond these niche applications. This standardization would involve the companies that make various forms of energy harvesters ranging from piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and photovoltaic to the low-power circuitry for wireless protocols.

In July, the ZigBee Alliance announced that it would draft a standard for energy-harvesting devices. However, it faces two limitations concerning energy harvesting: Many devices are interoperable and the power consumed is often too high for most of the potential in wireless sensor networks, where energy harvesting is needed. As a result, other, lower-power standards have gained traction in WSN, as detailed in the IDTechEx report, "Wireless Sensor Networks 2009-2019" (

The EnOcean Alliance, like the ZigBee Alliance, is a consortium of companies with an energy-harvesting standard that is open and interoperable with existing standardsfrom TCP/IP to ZigBee itself. EnOcean has applied to the IEC to become an official global standard for energy-harvesting devices. Following success in Europe, it has started to gain traction in North America with manufacturers like Masco Corp., Philips, and Osram Sylvania embracing its technology. For more information, please contact Raghu Das at [email protected].

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