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A RISC-V MCU that works solely on ambient energy

Last week, ipXchange posted a lot of content about removing batteries from the IoT using wireless power transmission – see the links at the end of this article. In another variation on this theme, Guy chats to Kjetil Meisal, CEO and founder of ONiO. This disruptive company is removing the need for batteries by using a tiny general-purpose Bluetooth LE microcontroller that operates solely on harvested energy – the supply voltage is as little as 450 mV using photovoltaic (PV) cells!

As Kjetil explains, with so much energy around us at all times, there is no reason it should go to waste, so ONiO designed its chips to work with RF, photovoltaic, thermal, piezoelectric, and any other ambient energy source. This is done via an intelligent harvesting mechanism within the chip that detects the nature of the source from an energy harvesting element – such as a PV cell or an antenna – adapts to suit this source, and converts it into a usable energy supply for the MCU. This energy is stored in an external capacitor, for example.

ONiO’s MCU is a feature-packed platform that has been completely built from the ground up to support ultra-low-power operation. It is centred around a 16/32-bit RISC-V architecture (RV32EMC), 1 kB of mask ROM, 2 kB RAM, 8/16/32 kB Flash, GPIOs, industry-standard interfaces, Bluetooth LE, encryption/hash generation, and much more, in addition to the energy harvesting infrastructure. ONiO estimates that this high level of integration can save designers more than 80% of their bill of materials for batteryless IoT builds.

Guy and Kjetil then discuss the vast potential for these devices in applications such as medical wearables, precision agriculture, smart building, industrial IoT for predictive maintenance, and much more. Currently, ONiO is working with early adopters in order to get its first round of chips into market-ready products, but Kjetil expects that by mid-2025 there will be sufficient stock to serve much larger projects.

Learn more about ONiO’s MCU by following the link to the board page below, where you can also apply to evaluate the technology for use in a commercial project.

Keep designing!

Love IoT but hate the batteries? Check out our other interviews on the subject:

How to wirelessly power IoT sensors from 10 m away

How to build an IoT with wireless power and data

Atmosic showcases battery-less RCUs and longer-life IoT

ONiO MCU With Bluetooth LE & Energy Harvesting

Looking to finally ditch batteries with an MCU that features ultra-versatile energy harvesting on chip?

Apply for the development board now

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