Energy Harvesting for Beacons

Some of the latest innovations in beacons are related to how they are powered. When beacons can be self-powered it greatly reduces maintenance, improves convenience and removes wastage (of batteries).

As we have previously mentioned, Wiliot is pioneering the use of Radio Frequency (RF) energy harvesting. There’s a very recent Wiliot article Nano-Watt Computing that explains how Wiliot are harvesting RF energy in such as way as to charge a capacitor that, periodically charged, can be used to power a beacon.

RF isn’t the only way to charge a capacitor. Recent research from Japan on Ultra-low-power energy harvester for microbial fuel cells and its application to environmental sensing and long-range wireless data transmission shows how Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) can be used to power a Bluetooth beacon.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) generate electricity directly from organic matter contained in aquatic sediment, soil, and domestic wastewater. The research describes UPEM, the first harvester that takes real-time measurements of temperature and humidity, CO2 sensing and provides iBeacon and LoRa transmission using a single MFC.