Start-up crowd-funding campaign for battery-less IoT

  • February 15, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

German start-up Nessie Circuits is about to launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for developing energy-harvesting technology in battery-less IoT applications.

The heart of the technology is the Riotee module that integrates energy harvesting, energy storage, power management, non-volatile memory, a Cortex-M4 processor and a 2.4GHz, Bluetooth LE-compatible radio into a module with the footprint of a postage stamp.

The idea is this is soldered it to a PCB to power sensors and peripherals. A solar panel can turn this into a fully functional, battery-free device.

The Riotee Board combines a Riotee module with a USB type-C connector and circuitry that facilitates programming and debugging. Two pin sockets expose all signals from the module, including ten GPIOs that support I²C, SPI and analogue sensor applications. These headers can also be used to connect multiple Riotee shields to extend the capabilities of the device without designing a custom PCB.

The board has a push button, LED and connector for a solar panel. Once the firmware has been flashed to the board, it will automatically switch over to untethered, battery-free operation.

A solar shield plugs into the board’s headers. It has four small solar cells and a pair of sliding switches that allow users to select one, three or all four solar cells so they can experiment to see which configuration works best under specific lighting conditions.

A capacitor shield lets users add more capacitance to the device. The capacitors on-board the module are sufficient for many applications, but some require more to, for example, send a large wireless packet. The capacitor shield includes an eight-position switch to connect additional capacitors ranging from tiny ceramics to large supercapacitors.

The sensor shield adds an accelerometer, temperature-and-humidity sensor and microphone.

The Riotee probe lets a module be programmed after it has been soldered onto the PCB or plugged into a breadboard. It has a standard ten-pin connector and is compatible with Tag-Connect cables that support in-circuit debugging.

Nessie Circuits was founded in 2021 in Berlin and offers embedded hardware and software to academia and industry. The crowd-funding campaign should launch soon on Crowd Supply.