Powercast and KYOCERA AVX harvest power at CES

  • January 4, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Powercast and KYOCERA AVX are working together on battery-free technology that harvests power from established RFID sources for use by ESLs, sensors and other IoT devices.

KYOCERA AVX’s supercapacitors and Pennsylvania-based Powercast’s over-the-air wireless power technology have been combined to enable maintenance-free sensor tags and electronic shelf labels (ESLs) powered solely by RF harvested from RFID readers.

Powercast and KYOCERA AVX are demonstrating the technology at this week’s CES in Las Vegas.

A Powercast PCC110 Powerharvester receiver chip embedded in electronic devices harvests RF out of the air when it comes within range of a UHF RFID reader, converts that RF to DC, and then stores it in a KYOCERA AVX supercapacitor for discharge when needed. This battery-independent power storage eliminates battery replacement maintenance and keeps disposable batteries out of landfills.

At CES, the companies demonstrated two Powercast products that highlighted the joint technologies.

First, Powercast’s redesigned PCT100 RFID sensor tags measured temperature, humidity and light for environmental monitoring in the retail, medical, warehousing and industrial IoT markets. Secondly, Powercast’s battery-free ESL wirelessly updated an e-paper screen to display instructions on bins in warehouses to facilitate picking or assembly.

“The ability to power green, sustainable devices solely from the RF harvested from the RFID readers deployed today throughout many industries can solve the main problem IoT deployments face – battery replacement,” said Charles Greene, CTO of Powercast. “We are teaming with KYOCERA AVX whose thin, advanced supercapacitors can store the energy generated by Powercast technology and discharge as needed to either directly power a battery-free device, or recharge a rechargeable battery.”

Mamoon Abedraboh, product marketing manager at KYOCERA AVX, added: “This collaborative effort can be used to develop environmentally-friendly smart home IoT ecosystems that eliminate disposable batteries, while extending backup time and providing instantaneous power pulses as needed. Our vision is to make IoT more sustainable now and into the future.”

CES 2023 marks KYOCERA AVX’s first year of participation at this industry event. The exhibits will showcase antennas engineered to provide optimal performance in IoT, 5G, networking, healthcare, consumer electronics and satellite communications applications.

The company’s range of RF components are optimised for use in 5G applications, including UBC ultra-broadband capacitors and various filters, resistors, inductors and couplers.

Antenna reference designs developed with industry partners can hasten time-to-market cycles for 5G, LTE-M, wifi and wBMS technologies.

The firm’s laser-direct structuring (LDS) manufacturing process deploys conductive traces on injection-moulded plastic and – unlike stamped metal and flexible printed circuits – enables the integration of complex mechanical designs in miniature 3D shapes and reduces assembly costs.

Exhibit highlights will include samples of products that will be released to market in 2023, including the A-series AEC-Q200 antennas for automotive platforms, patented, high-accuracy ultra-wideband (UWB) antennas, and the GNSS L1, L2 and L5 SMD antennas based on LDS and featuring circular polarisation.

There will be live demonstrations of active antenna band switching and a turntable for wifi throughput testing. Video demonstrations and on-site samples of active antennas include its P sensor hybrid antennas, which also act as proximity sensors, and its active steering antenna systems, which continuously optimise antenna directions, create multiple radiation patterns, and select the best one to achieve a significant increase in range, reliability and speed in commercial and residential applications with difficult connectivity conditions.

Customer case studies featuring antennas include smart meters, asset trackers and Swisscom’s WLAN-Box 3, which is equipped with ten custom, KYOCERA AVX antennas and delivers tri-band 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz performance in a compact form factor for extending wifi range in residential applications.

An IoT optimiser powered by Deutsche Telekom IoT and offered in partnership with KYOCERA AVX is an interactive digital twin design tool for battery-powered IoT, allowing users to model and validate quickly, accurately and cost-effectively NB-IoT and LTE-M devices equipped with the firm’s antennas.

“We are thrilled to be participating in CES 2023 and are very excited about our first exhibition,” said Carmen Redondo, director at KYOCERA AVX. “I’m especially looking forward to demonstrating our advanced antenna and RF component technologies and products for our customers and industry partners and to participating in the IMC panel discussion about healthcare IoT and sharing KYOCERA AVX’s vision and expertise in wireless hardware for next-generation applications.”