PsiKick is a two-year-old startup coming out of research efforts at the Universities of Michigan, Virginia, and Washington that is preparing a wireless sensor module for batteryless operation based on sub-threshold circuitry. The module includes an RF transceiver, a microcontroller with sensor front end, and energy-harvesting blocks, making it a self-powered sensor platform suitable for a wide array of applications. A second-generation version of the design, based on standard CMOS processing, entered tape-out earlier this year, so a demonstrable product is likely by year’s end.
The power requirements for this module are astoundingly small, some 100 to 1000 times less than that of comparable sensor platforms currently available. In full operating mode the processor only uses 400 nanowatts while the RF transmitter generates 10 microwatts for an effective range of 10 meters. The module’s supply voltage can be anywhere from 0.25 to 1.2 V, making it a good match to the output capabilities of most energy harvesting methods.
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