At the recent IDTechEx Energy Harvesting and Storage event in Denver, Arveni, a startup based near Grenoble, France, demonstrated a batteryless remote control. Arveni develops piezo electric energy harvesting devices for a wide range of applications, from vibration to pulse harvesting.
The device (pictured) uses a piezoelectric energy harvester that converts mechanical energy to electricity by pressing the central green button on the remote control unit, which provides enough power for several button switches on the remote.
The infrared remote control units have fairly high energy consumption for a single button pressure, using 65 milliamps at 2 volts, during 45ms, depending on the range: up to 9 messages can be sent. Infrared LEDs are the most demanding communication medium. This prototype was developed for SFR, a major European telecom provider, and SFR's request was to use an off-the-shelf infrared unit. Arveni integrated the piezoelectric energy harvester into the unit. This mechanism partially disconnects, from energetical point of view, the user and the piezoelectric microgenerator. In this respect, the mechanical transmission of energy by this mechanism is rather unique, with a 55% energy transfer. This interface is now in process of IP protection. The energy generated by pressing the green energy harvester button on the remote controller unit is over 3.5 milliJoules, after adaptation to the load it remains 2.1 mJ, for an incoming energy of 19 mJ. The overall efficiency of converting energy from mechanical to 3V electrical is 11% - which Arveni claims is a world first.
It is this unique conversion rate that allows Arveni's microgenerator the capability to power such an energy consuming application as infrared communication. Arveni is focused on the most demanding application in vibration and pulse energy harvesting.
Arveni has been working with European and Asian based electronics companies that seek to sell such devices. The next step is to develop the unit such that a central energy harvesting button is not required - the energy harvester unit will be connected to the most used buttons and as these are pressed it will provide energy for future presses. Arveni is also exploring using RF controls instead of infrared ones.
For further information see www.arveni.com
Top image source Cybernet News