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Affordable IoT Devices can be Developed by Smart Microchips

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IoT devices will become affordable with the help of Microchips.
Microchips, Wikimedia Commons
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A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy. This could help in manufacturing smaller and cheaper Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Called BATLESS, the smart microchip was developed by engineers from the National University of Singapore and is designed with a novel power management technique that allows it to self-start and continue to function under dim light without any battery assistance, using a very small on-chip solar cell.

Its functioning was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2018 conference in San Francisco.

“We have demonstrated that batteries used for IoT devices can be shrunk substantially as they do not always need to be available to maintain continuous operation,” research leader Massimo Alioto said.

Read also: New Technology Developed to Study Marine Life

“Tackling this fundamental problem is a major advancement towards the ultimate vision of IoT sensor nodes without the use of batteries and will pave the way for a world with a trillion IoT devices,” Alioto added.

Currently, batteries in IoT devices are much larger and up to three times more expensive than the single chip they power.

A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy.
National University of Singapore, Wikimedia Commons

This research substantially reduces the size of batteries required to power IoT sensor nodes, making them 10 times smaller and cheaper to produce.

“BATLESS is the first example of a new class of chips that are indifferent to battery charge availability. In minimum-power mode, it uses 1,000 to 100,000 times less power, compared to the best existing microcontrollers designed for fixed minimum-energy operation,” Alioto added.

“At the same time, our 16-bit microcontroller can also operate 100,000 times faster than others that have been recently designed for fixed minimum power operation,” Alioto noted.

The research team aims to demonstrate a solution that shrinks the battery to millimetres with the long-term goal of completely eliminating the need for it. (IANS)

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A New Tool May Aid Patients To Detect Urine Blockage

Surgeons are developing a new smartphone-based tool that can detect urethral or urine blockage, potentially making it easier for patients to test themselves for the condition from the comfort of their own homes.

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Americans have been oberved being online almost everytime.
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Surgeons are developing a new smartphone-based tool that can detect urethral or urine blockage, potentially making it easier for patients to test themselves for the condition from the comfort of their own homes.

The novel technique could take high-speed photography which could capture subtle differences between a normal steady stream of liquid and a stream of liquid with an obstruction.

Urethral strictures are a slowing or blocking of the natural flow of urine due to an injury or infection. It is normally diagnosed by uroflowmetry, a test administered at a physician’s office.

“The problem is that patient follow-up after we treat this condition is very poor,” said Matthew Gretzer, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona in the US.

“But we need patients to come back to our clinic for a uroflow test to determine if the obstruction is still present,” he added.

representational image

In order to test Gretzer’s hypothesis on high-speed photography, the team created a model of a urethral structure using tubing hooked to a saline bag that could drain through.

Saline fluid was passed through the tubing with and without blockages, created using 3D printed strictures, placed within the tubing. High-speed photography captured both the regular and blocked stream of liquid exiting the tube.

Gretzer contended that photos can be a medium to diagnose blockages and he hopes that patients could send him these images to analyse and make the diagnosis. He plans to create a mobile app which can be downloaded by the patients.

“All patients would need to do is take high-speed images of their urine flow using a strobe light,” Gretzer said.

“Strobe light apps are readily available right now for people to use on their phones”.

Also Read: Astronauts from Clemson University in US Believe Human Urine Can Help Safer Space Travel

According to the researchers, as fluid exits an opening, a natural breakpoint occurs where the liquid stream forms droplets, but with obstructions in place, it changes.

The results showed that by analysing photos, they could measure the length to this point of droplet formation. This length then directly related to the presence of an obstruction in the tube. (IANS)

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