“By advancing state-of-the-art sensing capabilities for national security through N-ZERO, DARPA could help make the Internet of Things more efficient and effective across countless scenarios and environments, thus transforming the way people live,” said Troy Olsson, DARPA program manager.
While we are waiting for DARPA to break the asleep-yet-aware code, we have another option, which is energy harvesting. That is, to use ambient energy to create electricity. Most notably solar energy, but also thermoelectric and piezoelectric generators.
We are seeing some of this energy harvesting being deployed commercially, but it is not widespread. Jeff Sather, VP of technology and customer solutions at Symbet, says that part of the reason for this is the upfront engineering work has to occur during the design phase which makes it harder to get products to market quickly.
Designers and engineers have to think about the environment in which the customer will deploy the transducers. Not all environments are the same so either you have to design for the worst-case scenario, which leads to over-spec’ing many of the components, or you get into the custom product business, which is hardly sustainable.