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MIT Introduces a Power Converter to Make IoT Devices Energy Efficient

MIT Introduces a Power Converter to Make IoT Devices Energy Efficient

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Energy saving solutions have become preeminent as the demand for energy-efficient IoT devices is sky rocketing. Due to the petite size of the IoT devices and limited storage capacity, consumers are lagging from enjoying the IoT benefits to the fullest.

In the real world context, IoT devices are mostly deployed in rural areas where replacing or charging the batteries is a serious challenge. The devices used in such areas should operate for years without the requirement of changing the power source frequently.

IoT device manufacturers must ensure that such devices operate in low power modes. The auto activation feature must be optimized so the device only powers itself when there is a requirement to fulfill a particular task. However, the challenge is to create sophisticated circuits with highest power efficiency and less leakage when in the idle state.

By design, most of these devices spend a good part of their time in the low power modes. They only activate when there is need to perform a particular task, after which they should quickly return to low-power state. However, the challenge is designing circuits with the highest efficiency when in operation and yet very little, if any, leakage current when in the idle state.

MIT experts have designed a new converter that could be a great asset to IoT device manufacturers.

Before we take a deeper look at MIT’s new converter, we will identify the issues of powering IoT devices and how designers are tackling them.

Challenges

  • Unlike computers and laptops, IoT devices cannot use high-performance operating system due to the limited on-chip memory.
  • Most of the power converters consume energy even in the hibernating state. Most devices draw microamp current to maintain the quiescent power. But there are times when the suction might even be higher than what the device requires to perform complex functions.
  • Maintaining the maximum and minimum current level is another major challenge for designers. There are times when the device will only consume few microampere but will require hundreds or even thousands of milliamps in active mode.

Energy Saving Strategies for IoT Device

To create effective energy saving strategy, designers must select the best hardware components, software codes, network protocols, encryption, and data processing to optimize the power requirement. Developers must carefully optimize the device’s energy profile in both active and sleep mode. Then designers can configure software routines, circuits, processes, and data transmission to understand where the most power is used or leaked. This provides plenty of opportunities for developers to map out energy saving opportunities.

Here are some tips to reduce the energy consumption of IoT devices and Sensors.

Mitigating Leakage in Transistor Switches

Most transistors in electric circuits don’t insulate the current flow completely, even when the device is in hibernation or off states. Even though the leakage is usually small, it can consume massive energy in the long run. Installing a negative charge at the gate will turn the device completely off, and prevent current flows when the transmitters are in idle state.

Single Power Source

Today, we can find many power management integrated circuits that can provide different voltage levels from a single source, commonly known to many as (PMICs). PMICs can drive various circuits with different power requirement and provide isolated power for each application. This, in turn, operates major channels with low voltage and uses built-in compressors to boost the power level.

Selecting and Optimizing IoT Device Hardware

Before designing any IoT device, developers must choose a proper microcontroller. The microcontroller should be energy efficient in both active and idle state. Plus, it must be effective to wake up from low power or sleep mode quickly.

Besides that, developers must consider other key elements such as voltage regulators, sensors, memory devices and power management circuits.

Optimizing IoT Device Software

While reducing the energy on hardware application is crucial, there is another part which cannot be undermined. It’s equally important to encrypt right codes to make the software energy consumption. Developers must optimize software routines to mitigate the excessive power leakage.

A New Solution: MIT’s New Energy-Efficient Converter

Experts at MIT Laboratories have already initiated their efforts towards a power efficient converter for small IoT components such as IoT sensors, wireless sensors, and power supplies.

The converter work with a voltage between 0.7 and 0.9 volts, which is step-down from the previous 1.2 to 3.3 volts. Unlike traditional converters, the MIT convert just sends enough power packets that the circuit requires performing a particular task.

The MIT converter is integrated with a variable clock, a capacitor, and electric switches to supply different current rates depending upon the energy requirements. When the device is in sleep mode, the number of power packets is reduced by the converter. But when the device needs to perform a high energy consumption, the converter sends millions of energy packets to complete the task.

Here are few benefits of using MIT converters.

  • Reduce the overall power consumption of the IoT device.
  • Drastically minimizes the energy consumption of the IoT device when it is in sleep mode.
  • Maintains the current flow over a much larger variation from 500 picoamps to 1 milliamp.

This innovation can solve the power issue of many IoT devices. Hence, we can assume that the power issue of IoT devices will be elevated soon.