Fraunhofer Bringing IoT Systems to the Masses

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Fraunhofer Bringing IoT Systems to the Masses

By creating a network of extremely energy-efficient hardware modules, the German Fraunhofer Society intends to lay the ground for full-coverage IoT systems for the future. Connected networks of sensors already require gigantic amount of energy. By 2020, the power needed to run IoT worldwide I expected to grow at least fourfold and reach a stunning 1,140 Terawatts. Scientists at Fraunhofer IFA, a think tank, are therefore turning their attention to creating more energy-efficient sensors. As part of a lighthouse project, Fraunhofer is focusing on the networks themselves as well as making the communication between sensors due with less power.

We intend to create the technological platform for comprehensive IoT solutions that run with less energy than before

says Erik Jung, a member of the project team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM. One way the scients hope to achieve this goal is by creating so-called Ultra-Low-Power WakeUp-Receivers that only activate sensors within a network of they are called on from an authenticated external source. The module they have developed, they claim, is already a thoiusand times more efficient than conventional hardware (IoT systems). A second approach is to develop unique sensors tailored to specific tasks. For instance, Fraunhofer has completed an air quality sensor that is intended to be coupled with a micro-pump to serve as a measuring amplifier for fine particles. By greatly increasing the amount of supplied air it is possible to build a sensor with greatly reduced intrinsic sensitivity, while at the same time providing data that is far more accurate. Whereas today’s sensors can deliver 5,000 measurements at a power of 1,250 microwatts per second, the developed sensor is expected to deliver twice as many readings per second with a power of less than 10 microwatts. The sample sensor is intended to measure the particulate matter in cities. While measurements of particulate matter used to be extremely time-consuming and could therefore only be performed at a few nodes at the same time, the new technology is intended to enable a denser and more accurate measurement. The intelligent networking of the nodes and the connection to common cloud platforms can be used to create a detailed model of fine particulate emissions in cities. The applications are numerous: for example, traffic flow control could be based on it, and navigation systems could adapt their routes to it independently.

Author: Tim Cole
Image Credit: Fraunhofer IAF

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