DUBLIN, Ireland /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Energy Harvesting, Micro Batteries and Power Management ICs: Competitive Environment" report to their offering.
The report gives a top-level overview of some of the companies that make energy-harvesting devices, micro batteries, and power-management ICs for low-power sensors and devices. Each of these markets is different, with different characteristics defining them and driving them. The energy-harvesting companies are, for the most part, small start-up companies. Many are in Europe, such as EnOcean, Ubiwave, and Perpetuum. Companies such as Powercast and Perpetuum have commercial products while others are still in the prototype stage. The companies offering piezoceramic materials are more established, with energy harvesting only one of the industries they supply.
Many of the energy-harvesting companies have found it useful to partner with IC companies. IDS Microchip has a near-field communications solution they did for Texas Instruments, for example. EnOcean is working with the Fraunhofer Institute. Perpetuum is working with Dust Networks. Many of these companies are members of the ZigBee Alliance, as well. The IEEE 802.15.4 standard (ZigBee) is now expected to co-exist with other standards, such as Z-Wave, Insteon, LonTalk, and others. As a result, products are becoming ZigBee-qualified. Still, some companies believe that ZigBee will follow Bluetooth's path in that it will need to find its own "application niche."
What is agreed upon is that wireless technologies are hot—customers want them and find wireless cheaper. Customers also want low power and high reliability. Where demand differences come in is with batteries. Some customers want batteries, and some do not. In general, the power requirements of batteries need to be minimized, and both established companies and startups are trying to meet this need. EaglePicher, Tadiran, and Varta, for example, are capitalizing on their existing lithium technologies to offer microbatteries for energy-harvesting applications. Front Edge, Oak Ridge Micro-Energy, and Solicore are newer companies offering ultra-thin film batteries. Although many energy-harvesting solutions (such as microgenerators) are aimed at getting rid of batteries, they are still likely to be used in many wireless sensor networks.
The most established companies offering wireless sensor network and energy harvesting solutions are the power management IC companies. Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics—these manufacturers and more have a variety of products targeted at ultra-low-power applications. Some, such as Advanced Linear Devices, have specific modules for energy harvesting. These products are expected to help drive down costs, because high volumes are necessary to achieve market penetration. Radiocrafts, for instance, is "aiming for high-volume manufacturing." Most companies see commercial adoption of ZigBee products and related energy-harvesting solutions in two to three years.
Like most emerging technologies, the energy-harvesting landscape has many specialized competitors. The profiles in this report cannot cover them all, but they do provide a representative sample of the more significant products and technologies.