MillennialNet, Ferro jointly producing battery-free, wireless sensor networks

MillennialNet Inc. and Ferro Solutions have formed a technology partnership and successful demonstration of a battery-free version of Millennial’s i-Bean wireless sensor networking device. MillennialNet manufactures hardware and software for self-organizing, wireless sensor networks. Ferro develops energy-harvesting technologies.

By Control Engineering Staff November 6, 2003

MillennialNet Inc . and Ferro Solutions have formed a technology partnership and successful demonstration of a battery-free version of Millennial’s i-Bean wireless sensor networking device. MillennialNet manufactures hardware and software for self-organizing, wireless sensor networks. Ferro develops energy-harvesting technologies.

Millennial Net’s i-Beans are extremely small, ultra low-power, self-organizing, wireless sensor networking and computing devices that enable sensors and other monitoring and control appliances to connect over low data-rate wireless networks. The company says i-Beans are useful in hundreds of industrial, medical, consumer and military applications, and elsewhere that sensing devices must communicate with each other, even when they have limited or no human intervention for years at a time and/or must function at very low power.

Meanwhile, Ferro’s Energy Harvesters can generate electricity from vibrations that are barely noticeable to the human touch. Combining these Energy Harvesters with Millennial Net’s i-Beans further reduces the total cost of ownership of implementing and maintaining wireless sensor networks because they eliminate the need for batteries and the labor of replacing them. This means greater savings for end-users and new freedom for system designers and wireless device engineers.

Specific applications for battery-free i-Beans include monitoring HVAC systems through duct or machine-mounted sensors and wireless transmitters; powering sensor devices in automobiles, trucks or trains; and enabling remote colonies of sensors used in aircraft and ships to detect potential problems. Besides its innovative networking protocol, MillennialNet uses a portfolio of radio technologies, including micro-power narrowband solutions, as well as IEEE 802.15.4 wireless personal area network (WPAN) components.

”By providing a continuous, nearly endless supply of electricity to i-Beans, Ferro Solutions’ Energy Harvester is a power source that never needs to be replaced,” says Kevin O’Handley, Ferro’s executive VP of business development. ”Vibrations are converted into ‘perpetual power’, giving users the benefits of a system with a very long operating life.”

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering, jmontague@reedbusiness.com