How to solve the problem of charging Internet of Things (IoT) equipment

Have you ever lived a world where everything is highly intelligent and interconnected? Here, thousands of sensor networks are deployed in homes, offices and factories to achieve better decision making, personal safety, greater automation, lower costs, and improved overall productivity and quality of life for everyone. . If your answer is yes, the good news is that this world, called the Internet of Things (IoT), is just around the corner.

What exactly is the Internet of Things? Conceptually we can understand that almost every "thing" on the planet (and even other planets) will be given a unique address. This address helps each thing communicate and interact with all other things over the Internet.

Currently, such "things" are defined as a device that can connect to the Internet. These devices include cell phones, smart TVs, refrigerators, coffee makers, jet engines, nuclear reactors, and any other device that can be controlled by a power switch. In fact, the "things" that the Internet of Things can connect to are much more than that. As communication technologies, especially wireless technologies, are becoming more and more advanced, the "intelligence" of everything in the world has become an unstoppable trend. Although televisions, refrigerators and coffee machines have been around for many years, they have only begun to connect to the Internet in recent years. As technology continues to advance, the “things” that connect to the Internet in the future will be immeasurable.

According to the report, as of February 2015, the number of devices connected to the Internet was about 14.8 billion units, and by 2020, this number will reach 50 billion.

IoT Connected Device Growth Forecast (Photo from ZDNet.com)

As an emerging trend in technology development, the Internet of Things has also brought many new opportunities and challenges to the semiconductor industry. How to power these connected devices has become a problem for every solution designer. Energy harvesting and wireless power technology can help enable small or battery-free solutions while avoiding the use of power cords.

Since the number of sensor nodes is typically as many as several billions, the time and cost of replacing batteries is enormous. Therefore many wireless sensors must be able to supply their own power. Collecting energy from the surrounding environment is the preferred solution, or extending the battery replacement interval by increasing the capacity of the rechargeable storage device, even without replacing the battery. There are a wide variety of energy sources available today, including solar, thermal and vibrational energy, and even the use of ambient radio frequency (RF) energy. TI's power management devices support a wide range of collector, memory and load technologies to capture as much energy as possible from different sources.

In addition, the Internet of Things has also driven new investments in semiconductors in low-power electronics such as wearables. Although wearable devices have revolutionized personal fitness, the different charging cables and connectors used in these miniature devices have also caused many inconveniences to consumers. Wireless charging technology not only eliminates these annoyances, but also enhances the overall user experience, which is one of the reasons why this technology is being widely adopted. According to Credit Suisse, smartphones will become "private clouds" for wearable devices in the next five years, and on average each user will carry at least one or two such wearables with them. Technology research companies expect the market for wearable wireless devices to grow to $6 billion by 2016.

The reference circuits provided in the following five TI reference designs help users add small and efficient wireless power, battery charging and energy harvesting solutions to their applications. Welcome to view the details, it is time to power your IoT device!

Qi (WPC)-compliant wireless charger for low-power wearable applications

Micro Wireless Receiver Reference Design for Low Power Wearable Applications

Small wireless power transmitter for low-power wearable applications

Low Power Wearable TX Reference Design

Sensor Node Reference Design for IoT Design

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