HaiLa Partners with e-peas on a Battery-Free Wi-Fi Backscatter System Powered by Ambient Light

A combination of Wi-Fi backscatter technology and energy harvesting could help deliver a solution to the growing energy needs of the IoT.

Ultra-low-power semiconductor firm HaiLa Technologies has partnered with energy-harvesting specialist e-peas on a showcase that combines two of the companies' respective product lines to create the first battery-free Wi-Fi-based backscatter communication system capable of being powered by nothing more than ambient light.

"Leveraging the e-peas team’s deep expertise in PMICs [Power Management Integrated Circuits], we've been able to demonstrate an energy-harvested power source for Wi-Fi-based sensor connectivity," explains HaiLa's Patricia Bower of the partnership's fruit. "This is a critical step forward towards HaiLa’s mission to enable sustainable scaling of IoT [Internet of Things] on Wi-Fi and we're excited to show the joint solution at Sensors Converge."

"The close collaboration with HaiLa's team to showcase the power of our combined technologies demonstrates new possibilities to run autonomous Wi-Fi devices free of disposable battery and maintenance requirements," adds e-peas' chief marketing officer Christian Ferrier. "We're excited to contribute of the new era of new Wi-Fi devices powered by energy harvesting.”"

The joint venture combines the HaiLa BSC2000 monolithic Wi-Fi backscatter chip, unveiled by the company in January this year, with e-peas' AEM10941 ambient energy manager. The latter harvests energy from ambient light — even indoors — and stores it in a rechargeable element for use by the BSC2000, which saves energy by modifying existing Wi-Fi signals through passive backscattering rather than actively transmitting itself.

While the BSC2000 concentrates on Wi-Fi, as one of the most ubiquitous wireless communication standards around, the company is quick to point out that the core passive backscatter concept is protocol agnostic — meaning it could be deployed in areas where Wi-Fi in unavailable, switching instead to a different carrier signal.

The system is to be demonstrated at Sensors Converge today and tomorrow, the companies have confirmed, at Booth 738 of the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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