The future is wireless. In our always connected world, being tethered by wires is no longer a practical solution. But the big advantage of wired connections is that they never need to have their batteries recharged. Fortunately, wireless solutions are becoming so energy efficient that it is now practical to eliminate the batteries altogether. One of the latest devices is the SimpleLink wireless microcontroller from Texas Instruments.
This tiny chip comes in different models to support different wireless standards. Versions are available for Bluetooth Smart, 6LoWPAN and ZigBee, and multiple 2.4 GHz technologies. All this is packed into a chip as small as 4-mm-square with a peak current of less than 6.2 mA. The controller operates at less than 61 uA/MHz, and can sleep while maintaining memory contents and a real-time clock while drawing just 1 uA. This low current draw means that a wireless sensor using this chip could run for years on a standard coin cell battery. The power requirements are so low that they can be met by energy harvesting technology in many settings, eliminating the need for a battery altogether.
TI also offers development kits and sample code for developers. In addition to use in wearable Health Tech devices, the new chips can also be used to create wireless sensors for smart home, retail, and industrial applications. By eliminating both the cost of wiring and of having to recharge or replace batteries, this system could help reduce the cost of ownership for intelligent systems.