Category: Low power IoT

Five innovations that caught our attention at Embedded World fair

This year, Embedded World welcomed around 1.000 exhibitors in Nuremberg, Germany. The fair was visited by more than 30.000 people from around the world. This year’s theme was “embedded intelligence”. At the fair, we exhibited our product and met with partners. But that’s not all.

As visitors, we explored multiple booths to select some of the best innovations of Embedded World. The main goal was to understand how these innovations would impact the industry and the final user. For that, we discussed with multiple experts of some of the most important actors in the electronics industry.

Toshiba : Implementing complex equations in a dedicated hardware

Toshiba e-bike showcased at the fair

Toshiba changed the concept of field-oriented control technique on e-bike. They implemented these mathematics calculations in a dedicated component instead of using the microcontroller for it. This special hardware is a specific system on chip.

We have interviewed a field application engineer from Toshiba during the fair. He explains us the innovation “ to drive the e-bike we generally use field-oriented control mathematics that date back from the 70s. It’s a lot of calculations that needs to be done. And at the level of a microcontroller, it’s done on software. It takes some time, and the microcontroller can’t do anything else instead of these calculations.”

For the engineer, implementing these calculations in a dedicated chip provides two advantages:

“-It’s faster than running it on a microcontroller processor. And the processor itself is completely free to do something else. The calculations are done in parallel to the operations of the microcontroller.

-We can do more calculations per second. And this will result in faster dynamic. For example, if there are changes in the system: if someone is going up or downhill, the system can react much faster, and there’s higher resolution. And it’s more precise.”

Rohm: The barometric pressure sensor from Rohm

Demonstration of a drone controlled using a barometric pressure sensor from Rohm

The barometric pressure sensor from Rohm gives more accurate control of drones. To showcase its product, Rohm made a demonstration for drone controlling.

For Dr Pauli Tikkanen, algorithm and embedded software engineer at Rohm, “The software is for using an open source system that controls the whole drone. What’s specific is that we’re using a barometric pressure sensor from Rohm to control the drone. We are also using Sony’s Spresence board for that.”

Micron: The launch of 1 TB microSD card

The Micron C200 1TB microSDXC UHS-I card is the world’s first 1TB microSD card

Micron launched world’s first 1TB microSD card. This microSD card can leverage Android Adoptable storage by allowing apps and games installed on the card to charge quicker.

For Gerard Risse, field application engineer at Micron, “This microSD card has the highest density in the world. Instead of storing the data on the cloud, we store it on the smartphone. It’s more secure, safer and you don’t have to transmit data all the time.”

With its high speed (R up to 100Mb/s – W up to 95Mb/s), the microSD card is able to store ~40 hours of 4k HDR video. Thanks to the Micron 96-Layer 3D QLC NAND, the card remains affordable while it still classifies for application performance Class 2 (A2).

Infineon / CEA Leti: Low-power fusion sensor solutions for cars

Leti’s demonstration of it low-consumption security solution for cars

CEA Leti presented its low-power fusion sensor solutions for cars. The combination of Leti SigmaFusion, working with Infineon AURIX, radar and safety power offers low-consumption security solution for vehicles like cars.

For Marie-Sophie Masselot, business development manager, “this system is based on a hardware mix that has an accelerator to process the data coming from the radar, mixes the different sources of data / sensors, and the power of the microcontroller”.

She adds, “Leti’s algorithm has been designed in an optimized way. It is a large number of data that has to be processed in real time to react. We managed to run it just on a microcontroller.”

Echoring: A wireless software technology for the industrial field

Demonstration showing how Echoring is able to control robots over the air even if the Wi-Fi is crowded

Echoring is an innovative wireless software technology for applications that require time-critical performance and high-robustness at the same time.

Mathias Bohge, managing director for Echoring, points out that “today we have a lot of problems with Wireless in the industrial field, because the wi-fi is not reliable and not deterministic enough. It’s hard to have robots control and safety functionality over the air. With Echoring this is possible.”

Mr Bohge gives more details about the product: “we have certain additional algorithms that secure the system to have more reliable behavior on the wireless channel. It’s a cooperation with Texas Industry. We’re using their chips with our own software”

Embedded World was the occasion for companies to reveal multiple exciting trends in the embedded systems industry. And it’s even more interesting to know that the fair broke records in terms of exhibitors’ numbers. In fact, there was an increase of 56 % in the proportion of international exhibitors. Wisebatt was among them, and we’re definitely ready to come back.  

Why we built a new feature to empower hardware engineers’ creativity

Since the creation of Wisebatt in 2016, our goal was always to stimulate hardware makers’s creativity. Six months after launching our beta version, we realized that we could go even further than that. We want to resolve the blank page syndrome. Hardware makers often face it while designing their device. This is mainly due to the complexity of electronics, and the different ways to start a hardware project.

To overcome that, we are launching the Project Creator feature. It empowers hardware makers to boost their creativity. Because we believe that anyone with an engineering vision should be able to create a connected object easily.

A feature that stimulates engineers’ creativity

Engineers can draft the architecture of their device either with pre-established templates or development kits provided by silicon vendors.

To guide the hardware-makers in their device’s draft, we provide them with ready-to-use templates. No need to face the blank page syndrome. Different use cases are available, whether they want to create a device for smart appliances, for home security or for tracking.

Otherwise, engineers can use pre-settled development kits. They can customize those kits just like a Lego game to play with, and test multiple possibilities.

This new feature will allow hardware makers to design devices faster. We are convinced that it will also stimulate engineers’ creativity. Therefore, we want to support our users and offer them the possibility to improve their architecture gradually.
As for the experts who prefer the freedom of the blank page, they still have the possibility to start from scratch.

sign up to WisebatT TO TRY THIS NEW FEATURE

We strongly believe that hardware makers are brilliant. However, they don’t necessarily have the right tools in their hands to create their devices quickly enough. With Wisebatt, engineers will be able to unleash their creativity. All that with the accuracy that comes with scientific results.

About Wisebatt

Wisebatt is a simulation tool for electronics engineers developing IoT devices. They can build virtual prototypes and collaborate to make the optimal choice between cost, battery life and performance, very early in the design cycle. The platform accelerates the design of electronic and IoT devices by automating hardware and software design.

We will be present at Embedded World in Nuremberg to launch this new feature. It will take place from the 26th to the 28th of February. Visit us booth 3A-533.

5 tips for battery life optimization of low-power IoT

For any battery-powered IoT applications, power consumption and battery life optimization are key design requirements.

Battery life must be taken into consideration right at the beginning of the development phase. If not, unexpected circumstances may occur. In fact, battery life is crucial for devices used in the health sector, such as pacemakers, where any failure might cost a life.

“Most companies do not define their use-case and therefore fail to meet market needs. They usually focus on adding extra features for their device and they don’t take battery life into account. Meanwhile, they miss to focus on the primary goal of the device.”

Wilfried Dron, CEO/Founder of Wisebatt.

Before anything else, the use case of your device must be defined precisely.

Here are some of the most effective ways to optimize the battery life of connected devices.

1. Use an LDO regulator

Please take a look at this project for further details.

Our first tip is to place a regulator between the system (sensor, MCU, radio) and the battery. This is used to ensure correct behavior, but diminishing the voltage of the component might also provide longer battery life.

In electronics, a regulator is a component used to maintain a steady voltage. The efficiency of the linear regulator depends on the difference between the input and output voltage. It relies also on the current drawn. The more the difference between input and output voltage, the greater the heat dissipated. To overcome this problem of heat dissipation, LDOs can be used by lowering the voltage drop.

To understand how to use an LDO, consider the following architectures consisting of a battery and a regulator.

Click on the project link to see the architecture.
Click on the project link to see the architecture.
Click on the project link to see the architecture.

The formula to calculate power dissipation is Pdiss= (Vin – Vout) * I.

To calculate the power used by the linear regulator, we need to know these three parameters.

  • Vin – input of the regulator
  • Vout – output of the regulator
  • I – current drawn from the circuit

Let’s say we have a system powered on 3.3V and drawing 140 mA. In order to optimize battery life, we can split the power rails into two as shown in the diagram. Then we can connect the second rail directly to the output of the first rail. By doing so, we can achieve equal dissipation of heat and a more balanced aging of the components.

2. Use a buck regulator

There are three types of switching converters available for stepping up and stepping down DC voltages : the boost converter, the buck converter and the buck-boost regulator.

A Buck is used to stepping down a given input voltage. It is a switching regulator which converts a higher voltage input to lower voltage output.

Using a Buck regulator is a great way to step down voltage  However, it can make a high frequency noise.

Buck boost regulators work when the supply voltage is greater or lower than the output voltage.

You can take a look at this project for further details.
You can take a look at this project for further details.

3. Use a load switch

You can take a look at this project for further details.

Another technique for battery optimization is to consider switching off loads when they are not used. In our example we will use two load switches:

  • One of the switches is placed between the power rail of the radio and the microcontroller.
  • The other one is placed between the power rail of the sensor and the microcontroller.

These two switches are controlled by the microcontroller.

Most load switches have four pins:

  • Input voltage
  • Output voltage
  • Logic level enable
  • Ground

When the load switch is enabled through its ON pin, current flows from the input (source) voltage pin to the output (load) voltage pin. The switch is turned on/off by applying a simple logic level signal.

4. Power down unused peripherals

Turn off the unused peripherals of your microcontroller, pulse-width modulator, ADC converter, and other components. The latter should preferably initialized each time they require an action . Such a measure can minimize power outage and leakage. Therefore, every small saving can lead to a substantial increase of the battery life.

5. Get a bigger battery

With these four techniques, you can achieve a good optimization of your battery life. In case you can’t enhance it enough, you can simply get a bigger battery. We advise you to rely on this only when you have no other option.

Any electronic device should be designed in a way that allows it to save power as much as possible. Engineers must carefully look for the battery drain in every mode of operation of the device. It becomes vital to optimize the battery life of the device to have an increased power saving performance.

Using these basic tips can help improve your hardware design with a low-power consumption and a longer battery life.

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