UWB’s Sustainability Advantages: IoT Sensors with “No Wires, No Batteries”
It would be an understatement to say that the team here at SPARK Microsystems gets excited about technology challenges. We are passionate about our innovations in UWB technology and the promise it holds to transform short-range wireless connectivity for gaming, audio, AR/VR/XR and IoT sensor applications, among others. UWB defies the longstanding performance and power efficiency challenges imposed 20+ years ago by legacy Bluetooth, and SPARK stands at the vanguard of this technology revolution.
But this is only part of our story.
SPARK Microsystems is also deeply committed to solving challenges in environmental sustainability. And this isn’t merely a matter of being a responsible corporate citizen – we genuinely want to make the world a better place, and it’s ingrained in our DNA.
UWB’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
SPARK UWB’s orders of magnitude performance advantages are essential for enabling the next generation of wireless connected mobile devices optimized for extreme energy efficiency. As a practical matter, this will enable consumers to use their favorite wireless devices – gaming peripherals, audio earbuds, AR glasses, you name it – for much longer intervals between recharges, for fewer interruptions and better overall enjoyment.
At the macro level, this energy savings adds up to something much greater – particularly in the realm of IoT sensing, where small-cell battery powered devices will continue proliferating at an exponential pace throughout our factory floors, renewable energy grids, smart infrastructure and ever onward.
The batteries in these devices are typically replaced at least once or twice in the sensors’ lifetimes – for short-lifetime devices, some batteries won’t be replaced at all. If not disposed of properly, these discarded batteries and devices pose a major environmental problem.
According to a recent United Nations report, “the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year, weighing more than all of the commercial airliners ever made.”
This presents a major downstream waste issue – both figuratively and literally. An estimated 3 billion dry-cell batteries are purchased every year in the U.S. alone, but only 10% of these batteries are believed to be properly disposed of. This leaves potentially 300 million batteries that could end up in landfill or incinerated, leaching toxic heavy metals into the land, water and/or atmosphere.
At a minimum, SPARK UWB wireless technology holds the promise to dramatically extend the functional lifetime of these batteries by maximizing the power efficiency of the host sensors themselves. The aggregate energy savings and reduced battery usage/replacements will ultimately help reduce landfill waste, CO2emissions and other toxic environmental contamination.
But there’s more we can do if we think bigger.
Just as short-range wireless technology paved the way for deploying sensors without wires, UWB holds the promise for a future of IoT sensors deployed without batteries. Power-sipping technology like SPARK UWB sets the stage for a future of battery-less IoT sensor devices that leverage energy harvesting technologies to derive their own power.
These sensors won’t need onboard batteries in the traditional sense. They could instead be powered by energy resources as free and plentiful as sunlight, heat, vibration, friction, wind – the possibilities are endless.
Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) most recent investment in SPARK Microsystems affirms UWB’s potential to dramatically reduce energy consumption for connected devices like IoT sensors, enabling longer battery lifecycles and reduced waste for a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future.