There is a new wireless concept emerging called wake-up radio (WUR). The only thing a WUR does is listen for a radio request to wake up other circuits – a more power-hungry radio like WiFi or Bluetooth for example. It is not a radio for transmitting many bits. It’s simply needs to respond when it hears it’s name called. What makes it important is that it is able to listen at extremely low power levels – perhaps a 1000 times less than the best ultra-low power BLE chips.
Since the main cost of running a battery-powered device is the power consumed listening for a message that might only come very infrequently, a 1000-fold improvement could translate into a 1000-fold extension in battery life for some devices (like mine).
The organization that built it is a Belgian research org. called IMEC, and it’s reasonable to expect that there will be people looking to incorporate this radio into WiFi, BLE and UWB (in fact I know it is going on).
What impact is this likely to have on the industry? Getting batteries and/or mains power to all these projected IoT devices is going to be a challenge, and changing the batteries on the 1000 devices you will have in your home will be a big turnoff. If WUR works, then it could be cosmic.
- Watch out for new devices that require no batteries, and can run of harvested energy.
- Look for wearables that you don’t want to take off to charge – watches, pacemakers…
- Look for business that have to install/maintain a lot of battery-powered wireless devices suddenly getting traction in new markets – especially places where a power grid is not taken for granted.