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CEO interview: Geoffroy Gosset of e-peas  

CEO interview: Geoffroy Gosset of e-peas  

Interviews |
By Nick Flaherty

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E-peas in Belgium has raised €17.5m to scale up its energy harvesting chip business. CEO and co-funder Geoffroy Gosset talks to Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe about the plans, including an image sensor powered by energy harvesting.

The €17.5m funding for e-peas comes alongside the launch of the company’s ultra low microcontroller that can also be powered by local energy sources, whether solar, RF, vibration or thermal.

“Over the last year we have extended the number of devices with 18 PMICs that we are offering light, thermal, vibration, rf,” said Gosset. “The €17.5m we will use to keep extending the portfolio but also increase the sales and customer support all over the world.”

“Now it’s about developing reference designs covering all sides of the market.”

 The company has 18 different devices with a range of features. It’s not just the different energy sources, but the additional features for certain markets such as adding USB charging for indoor solar applications such as battery-free remote controls, where TV giant Samsung is a customer, or support for primary batteries.

“This is driven by different features for different market segments,” he said. “You may have indoor solar with USB charging vs an outdoor solar that doesn’t need it. The energy sources are all covered so we have solutions that are fairly optimised for different feature sets. For example we do have some elements that allow a fall back to a primary battery for 24 hour operation, some rely on USB charging, some are boost converters.”

The funding, led by Otium Capital will also support the company moving into the microcontroller and image sensor markets. Otium is the family fund of Pierre-Edouard Stérin, a French entrepreneur that founded the SmartBox gift box company and has €1.6bn under management.

The round was joined by new investors Nomainvest, another family office, and the European Innovation Council EIC Fund, as well as existing investors KBC Focus Fund, The Faktory, Wallonie Entreprendre, Noshaq-Leansquare, and InvestBW.

At the CES show in Las Vegas in January this year the company launched its low power microcontroller, the EDMS105N. This is based on a 24MHz ARM Cortex M0 core and draws 18µA/MHz while in active mode. It has an array of different sleep states, the lowest of which will take its current draw down to just 340nA (with its real-time clock running and 8kB SRAM retention). It also includes UART, I2C and I2S, plus numerous GPIOs as well as data conversion and voltage regulation elements as well as 128bit AES encryption and a random number generator for security.

The recent ULPmark benchmarks shows this is the lowest power consuming Cortex-M0 MCU to be commercially available with a CoreMark of 509.

“On the PeripheralProfile score we have the highest score for any sensor fusion, always on. This is the first of a series of announcements that are going to take us towards being a one-stop shop for all the key IC components needed for extremely low power systems.”

The company is looking at other potential technologies, which is expected to include RISC-V where the instruction set can be optimised for low power, but there are no immediate plans, he says.

“It’s an ARM core and at the moment we will stick with that, but we are not closing any doors. We will industrialise the EDMS105N and develop the next ones with extremely low power,” he said.

Then there are plans for an image sensor that uses energy harvesting in 2025.

“This will be a VGA black and white sensor with lower power consumption for edge AI to provide images that are meant to be  processed to extract information from the image,” says Gosset.   

“The power will clearly be way below under 1mW for most applications but it depends on the frame rate and the features,” he said. That is designed to provide more of a background, wake u on movement function, making use of edge AI algorithms in the rest of the system to allow for low power in the sensor.

One are that e-peas is not looking at is the wireless link, he says. “We have partnership with wireless comms as that’s the only thing we don’t do, there’s Quorvo, Nordic for Bluetooth, Semtech for Lora and several others,”

www.e-peas.com

 

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