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Fujitsu Develops World's Smallest Sensor Device for LPWA Communication

By Ken Briodagh December 05, 2017

In a recent release, Fujitsu Laboratories has announced the development of what the company is saying is the world’s smallest sensor that eliminates the need to replace batteries. The new sensor supports Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) wireless transmission technology that can reach a broad area with low power.

Fujitsu has previously developed power control technology to operate a beacon with the power from a solar cell, but now the company has achieved high power efficiency by controlling signal transmission timing based on the temperature variation measured by a temperature sensor. This makes it possible to reduce the required energy storage elements for signal transmission by half. As a result, Fujitsu can now miniaturize the device to a size of 82x24x6 mm, now the world's smallest sensor device supporting LPWA that does not need replacement batteries, the company asserted in the announcement. In a test of the sensor device using this technology, Fujitsu said that the collected temperature and humidity data can be transmitted to a Sigfox base station over a distance of about 7 kilometers.

Power control technology that permits power variations with temperature
Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power control technology that can control the timing of LPWA signal transmissions in real time, based on temperature data collected from a temperature sensor. With this technology signal transmissions are only carried out at the time when the activation voltage, which varies with temperature, is maximized in order to prevent it from falling below the minimum operational voltage for LPWA module (Figure 3). By using power efficiently in this way, it is possible to tolerate variation in power consumed by the wireless circuit or power generated by solar cells due to temperature. This eliminates the need for the excess energy storage elements that were previously necessary to respond to power fluctuations, enabling miniaturization of the sensor device with the smallest power storage elements required.

Power monitoring technology that reliably activates the temperature sensor
In order for the power control technology to operate reliably, the device must be able to continually and reliably activate the temperature sensor with a small amount of power. To resolve this challenge, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed power monitoring technology that analyzes voltage changes in power source, and accurately judges whether or not sufficient power has been stored to operate the temperature sensor. This technology can prevent unnecessary shutdowns of the temperature sensor by using the minimum amount of power based on the temperature.

Fujitsu Laboratories will continue to conduct field trials aimed at the real-world use of these sensor devices, incorporating this technology into the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 IoT Platform and Fujitsu Frontech Limited's sensor solutions as connected devices, with the goal of commercialization in fiscal 2018. Furthermore, we will continue to develop technologies to miniaturize sensor devices.

“As the utilization of IoT is expected to continually increase, KCCS predicts that solutions utilizing the low power consumption feature of the Sigfox network will be developed in a variety of industries,” said Yoshihito Kurose, President, KYOCERA Communication Systems. “KCCS believes that Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.’s development of a sensor device, which does not require battery charging by way that device operation is enabled by a solar battery, will promote the use of Sigfox not only in Japan but around the world. As the Sigfox Operator in Japan, KCCS is working with Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. and other partners to enable everything to be connected to the Sigfox network and is contributing to the creation of a safe and pleasant society.”

For more on this kind of LPWAN innovation and others, register now for the LP IoT Event and the IoT Connectivity Showcase.


Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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