Energy harvesting, small-format batteries and power management ICs are technologies
that will enable the commercial rollout of next-generation ultra-low-power electronic
devices and systems. Such devices are being deployed for wireless as well as
wired systems such as mesh networks, sensor and control systems, micro-electro-mechanical
systems (MEMS), radio frequency identification (RFID) devices, and so on.
Energy harvesting, microgenerators and other emerging power management technologies
can be the enabler of wireless sensor network adoption. In fact, battery maintenance
and replacement is cited as the "biggest reason to use energy harvesting."
The first markets for these new technologies have been applications that can
not be used with batteries. This report will analyze the "next wave"
of applications that are likely to adopt advanced power management for ultra-low
power devices. It will also provide an overview of the various standards that
could help or hinder the adoption of these technologies, along with the power
architectures and cost benefits likely to drive commercial viability.
Ultra-low-power (ULP) wireless technologies are primarily employed in applications
that are not traditionally considered "portable," such as commercial
building automation, medical monitoring, transportation and avionics, automatic
meter reading, RFID, construction, and military. Although not portable systems,
the power needs closely mirror the needs of portable devices such as mobile
phone handsets and MP3 players. As a result, emerging ULP applications are expected
to provide substantial growth opportunities for power management technologies
traditionally associated with portable devices.
ULP wireless applications and portable applications are both low power, although
ULP powering is significantly lower. Both are often wireless, and both usually
use batteries. They rely on standards that vary by region and application, and
both have varying ranges, data rates, and power requirements, depending on standards
and applications. The same needs are driving both markets, as well: energy efficiency,
small form factors, reduced power requirements, and competition with "wired"