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A wireless SoC that’s made for ambient IoT!

Ambient IoT needs quite a few things: efficient energy harvesting technology, efficient power management from harvester to storage element, compact yet ample energy storage, and connectivity that doesn’t undermine the above. The latter is where Silicon Labs comes in…

In the  perfect full-circle moment at Wirepas OPEN 2024, ipXchange met Tristan Cool from Silicon Labs for the wireless SoC portion of a recent collaboration with both e-peas and Dracula Technologies in the field of ambient IoT!

For those unfamiliar with the term, ambient IoT is simply another way of saying an Internet of Things that runs on harvested ambient energy, whether that be light, heat, vibration, etc. The essential aim of such a technology is to eliminate the requirement for primary – i.e., non-rechargeable – batteries in ultra-low-power connected products. The reason for this can be approached from two main angles:

  • Sustainability – Batteries must go to landfill, which can’t be good for the long-term health of the planet, or be an effective use of its limited resources.
  • Maintenance – If you have millions of IoT devices that require batteries, then you have millions of IoT devices that require batteries to be changed, which is both a painstaking task and limits your IoT’s scalability and the positioning viability of your IoT end nodes, since you need to be able to get to them.

The MG22E – EFR32MG22E to give the device’s full name – is one of a few new wireless SoCs that Silicon Labs has brought out to specifically address these ultra-low power requirements for making ambient IoT a reality.

Silicon Labs’ MG22E is a Bluetooth and Zigbee SoC that puts the microcontroller and processing capabilities of a 76.8-MHz Arm Cortex-M33 architecture into a device that is optimised both for ultra-low transmit and receive power (8.2 mA at +6 dB and 3.9 mA respectively) and ultra-low-power DeepSleep current (1.4 µA), with extremely efficient wake-up when the device needs to be active.

As one of the key products at Wirepas OPEN 2024, you can also bet that it supports Wirepas Connectivity Suite for mesh networking. This makes the MG22E a great device for hyperscale ambient IoT in applications such as smart home, electronic shelf labels, asset tracking, predictive maintenance, and so much more.

As Tristan explains, efficient operation is key as an asset tracking tag, for example, needs to wake up, transmit so that it’s position can be determined, scan for a locationing response, then go back to sleep. For ambient IoT to work, the power consumption in all these steps must be minimised, and Silicon Labs’ MG22E SoC tackles this challenge with great effectiveness.

Silicon Labs makes an Explorer Kit that can be seamlessly integrated with the collaborative development kit between e-peas and Dracula Technologies, with optimised firmware for energy harvesting power optimisation. Though it is still to be released, Silicon Labs’ new kit will have a bank of capacitors to provide storage for harvested energy.

That said, Dracula Technologies is particularly disruptive in that the solar cell and supercapacitor are within the same unit, so we at ipXchange look forward to seeing how this reference design will turn out!

The MG22E SoC should be available at the time that ipXchange releases this interview, so follow the link below to the board page if you want to learn more about this device and apply to evaluate it for use in your next commercial project.

Keep designing!

Love ambient IoT? Check out these essential interviews from ipXchange:

Eliminating batteries in ESL designs with e-peas

Next-level green IoT with recyclable PV cells?! | Dracula Technologies

These sustainable supercapacitors will change IoT

A LoRaWAN IoT running solely on harvested energy!

Silicon Labs EFR32MG22E 2.4 GHz Bluetooth + Zigbee SoC & Explorer Evaluation Kit

Looking for a wireless SoC that has been specifically engineered to run on ambient energy?

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