An ex-coworker came by this afternoon for a quick chat. He had applied to Psikick, interviewed with them, and things looked promising, but today they came back with “the CEO has instigated a hiring freeze” which of course probably means they found someone else. But after hearing him describe the company it sounded interesting. I’m pretty sure we must have seen their booth at CES (it makes we wonder if we are approaching CES correctly since we missed what they are about – or may CES isn’t generally a very effective event because there is too much there to take in). They are making self-powered IoT devices to run entirely from harvested energy. Going to the web site reveals little information, but an Internet search turned up the attached presentation. They have a 500nW wakeup radio – or at least want to have one and are thinking about it. Some pages pasted here.

“3-7 meter wireless range” is a problem but if it’s an honest 20 feet maybe we could live with it. There is reference to “University prototype” (University of Michigan again) so I don’t think there’s an off-the-shelf product that can be purchased now.

Anyway – looks interesting.

Attachments area

Preview attachment HC27.24.130-Batteryless-IoT-Calhoun-PsiKick.pdf


Yes, that really is interesting.  The problem with CES is that I just can’t focus that hard for that long.  I guess we need to do more (some?) homework before we go?
It looks very promising.  I guess it will get built into a bunch of WiFi and BLE chips as standard so it isn’t necessary for everyone to rewrite software.
This is a company that could hit it big.
Random musing… The main wearable challenge remains harvesting enough power to run some sensors, and occasionally doing some ranging.  A WUP radio could reduce our radio budget substantially except for ranging, and that’s always going to be a problem I don’t know how to solve yet.  On the other hand if you can place these WUP radios in every ceiling tile and they can scavenge enough energy then maybe it’s possible to just kill the localization problem with a 100 radios.  But I can’t see Joe Public installing thousands, or even tens of these buggers.
So to my mind the challenge is still coming up with an insightful software architecture, and power model.  Figuring out an architecture that minimizes the expensive operations in favor of a greater number of inexpensive operations is key – but to understand the trade-offs you have to have an architecture that allows you to make those trade-offs as technology improves.

Put another way,  it seems more important to have the right approximate kinds of component, that allow exploration towards the right design, rather than necessarily the very best component.

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