MegaChips and Imec collaborate on ultra-low power short-range radio for IoT
Together, researchers from imec/Holst Centre and MegaChips will develop an ultra-low power multi-standard sub-GHz radio solution (compatible with ZigBee 900 MHz and IEEE802.15.4g) on CMOS technology, achieving a transmit power two times lower than current state-of-the-art (60 mW) and a receive power five to 10 times lower (6 mW). Ultimately, energy harvested solutions will enable fully-autonomous sensors. Even within this very modest power consumption, a programmable output transmitter up to 13 dBm is provided. Together with the excellent -120 dBm sensitivity, this performance enables a communication distance up to 2 km in free space and guarantees reliable coverage in big industrial premises, in smart metering applications and in non-line-of-sight situations in smart buildings.
Following the growth of mobile devices the rapidly upcoming Internet-of-Things (IoT), the market for connected devices will know an impressive growth in the coming years, with small, battery-operated sensors devices integrated everywhere—from homes and automobiles to human bodies—ultimately yielding up to hundreds of sensors per person, supporting, and even augmenting daily lives. As these wireless sensors become internet-connected and operate in heterogeneous networks, they enable percipient systems, that act on all available data from own sensors as well as from the cloud.
By 2020, models predict roughly 50 billion connected devices will be in use. These battery operated or energy-harvesting operated sensors will communicate with each other and with the internet via small short range radios that consume little amount of power—not only when active but also in the stand-by mode—and at affordable cost for mass production.