Wednesday, 13 July 2016 11:44

ANU team take step toward powering wireless sensors


A team from the Australian National University has created accurate models to reflect the quantum of energy needed by wireless sensors to detect and transfer information.

The ANU said this meant they had taken one more step on the journey to collect renewable or ambient energy from mobile phone base stations which could be used to power battery-operated wireless sensors.

Such sensors have multiple uses in industries, with health and agriculture being two examples.

Lead researcher Dr Salman Durrani from the ANU Research School of Engineering said wireless sensors for buildings, biomedical applications or wildlife monitoring used batteries that were tough to replace.

"A major problem hindering the widespread deployment of wireless sensor networks is the need to periodically replace batteries," he said.

Australian viticulturists use sensors to keep track of temperature, wind speed, light, humidity and the amount of water in soil to boost the growth of grapes and prevent crop loss due to heat or cold.

Sports also use wireless sensors to collect performance data from participants. And, sensors are also used to keep track of the condition of bridges and machinery.

The scientists found that it was possible to use energy from solar or surrounding radio frequency sources, like communication towers or other mobile phone base stations, to replace batteries.

The delay in communication was generally less than a few hundred milliseconds.

Though the use of the technology was probably years away, Dr Durrani said the team had tacked an important practical consideration.

"If we can use energy harvesting to solve the battery replacement problem for wireless sensors, we can implement long-lasting monitoring devices for health, agriculture, mining, wildlife and critical national infrastructure, which will improve the quality of life," he said.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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