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Tiny ARM-Based Sensor System Makes Battery Replacement Obsolete

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the transcend-batteries dept.

Power 96

An anonymous reader writes "University of Michigan researchers have crammed an ARM Cortex microcontroller, a thin-film battery, and a solar cell into a package that is only 9 cubic millimeters in volume. The system is able to run perpetually by periodically recharging the on-board battery with a solar cell (neglecting physical wear-out of the system)."

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THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (4, Informative)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31121896)

I think this is the first time I've ever actually seen a legitimate claim of a device drawing less power than it can charge from ambient sources.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31121984)

Never had one of those nifty solar calculators?

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31122214)

Not the same thing. TFA doesn't mention it, but this is an amazingly powerful processor for its tiny size and low power consumption; it even has a 8-core GPU [tinyurl.com] built in.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31122280)

Did your calculator have a sensor that could harvest all kinds of information? Actually, is that all these things do? What about transmitting the data they collect?

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122988)

we could make it print dirty words.
773440

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123144)

Don't you mean 5318008 ?

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (3, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123446)

If this device is as smart as TFS suggests, it can probably use more than 10 characters. Hell, something that size (9mm^3) could be, uh, discreetly placed to take pictures and send out the real thing!

Not that I would ever condone or support such an act.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123244)

80085 !

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125916)

0208 -378163771- 35380 01 '58008

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126888)

Ever noticed that you can't get those any more? Much like the electric car, they were forced off the market by 710.77345

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (5, Interesting)

nicknamenotavailable (1730990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122132)

Batteries have a limiting lifespan.

If they used a capacitor instead, this device would run virtually forever.

Place this in a solid glass marble, and it might last forever too.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122770)

I was wondering the same thing. Can't they make a Supercap small enough to put in this? That would eliminate its single biggest weakness.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123660)

Solar cells also have a limited lifespan. I'm skeptical that the battery is necessarily the limiting factor.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125278)

Batteries have a limiting lifespan.

If they used a capacitor instead, this device would run virtually forever.

Place this in a solid glass marble, and it might last forever too.

Note:

When something is sold as "infinite" or "forever" it doesn't actually have to meet its claims.

It just has to last longer than the person who paid for it.

The person who inherits its will think its quaint and let their kids break it.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125406)

> It just has to last longer than the person who paid for it.

Wrong! It just has to last longer than the person who sold it ;-)

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125462)

I have a Citizen solar rechargeable watch. It's now 15 years old an still working fine. Not infinite but it's lasted 10 years longer than I expected.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126824)

Right. As others have been suggesting :

So. A hybrid ? Solarcell + supercap + isotope + Vibecharger(tm) :) + ... nano-Stirling ? I'm sure the advantages would amply compensate the -slight- increase in bulk.

Since the supercap's there, might as well add a thermocouple. Who knows when that little extra (accumulated) might come in handy.

Oh! And a coiled-up rectenna (is that even possible ?) too. With everything and its dog pouring out really high-freq rf energy, these days.... I remember it can be done for plain old-fashioned radio (AM n FM). It's just a tad non-portable. Unless you have a porter squad, or two, on hand.

Going nanoscale, a (probably graphene) terahertz version of of rf vamping (as per above). Eventually, or someday, tuned to the wearer's personal spectrum, perhaps ? Naaah! Too scifi-ey! It'll *never* happen.

Ok. Enough of that. Back to the grindstone - during carnival, which is even more humiliating.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

home-electro.com (1284676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123588)

Why on earth would they want to attach an ARM to a sensor? 8 bit micro is more than enough to service a sensor. And will take a fraction of a power that the ARM requires.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (2, Insightful)

kju (327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123726)

Why on earth would they want to attach an ARM to a sensor

Because it can be done.

What do you gain by lower power requirements? You probably didn't RTFA, but at least take a look a the picture in full resolution (http://ns.umich.edu/Releases/2010/Feb10/MINISENSOR.JPG). The solar panels are already included in that tiny device, and it powers the ARM already. Decent processing power is good, think encrypting the - probably sensitive - data in the sensor.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125022)

Because this "ARM" is barely an ARM at all, and is simpler than even the original ARM1 and ARM2, and can't run ARM code, and is aimed at the 8 and 16-bit microcontroller market?

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125288)

Simpler that the ARM1? Err... no.

It has a memory protection unit, rather than relying on a separate MEMC chip. It has separate data and instruction caches, rather than no cache at all. It has more than two levels of interrupt priority. It has built in multiply and divide instructions. It has support for JTAG debugging. It has a low-power mode. It has to cope with decoding the mix of 16bit and 32bit instructions that is Thumb-2, rather than all instructions being 32bit.

This is simpler than the ARM1 how exactly?

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125720)

ARMs have integer DIV now? How can I show off the barrel shifter?!

Oh, phew, it's only the heretical Thumb-2 instruction set.

Anyway, my Acorn A3000 charged the onboard button-ish cell, and the PSU was so badly shielded it might as well have been powered by sunlight. I call prior art.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126102)

The real question is - when will Intel announce that their Atom will be soon similarly capable of running at low power levels.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123618)

I was expecting something more like these [ieee.org] , which use radioisotopes and ambient vibrations to generate power respectively.

Re:THIS is how you get "infinite" battery life (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124274)

I was expecting something more like these [ieee.org] , which use radioisotopes and ambient vibrations to generate power respectively.

Finally! A device that will actually get better performance when you Kick It!

neglecting physical wear-out (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31121900)

And lack of sunlight....

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (5, Funny)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122114)

Dude, time to step out of Mom's basement!

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126812)

> Dude, time to step out of Mom's basement!

What, you mean, like, get my *own* basement?

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31127648)

+10 Funny should exist just for you :D

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (2, Informative)

Yosho-sama (800703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122138)

Even without direct sun, solar cells still function, just at reduced capacity, mmmkay?

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122162)

And lack of sunlight....

...also extremes of heat, such as is commonly found in fire. Or intense pressure, traumatic impact, acid bath...I could go on. These scientists are such exaggerators!

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122570)

Yeah, all we have to do is burn the sky, and we can kill all the machines.

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122574)

And lack of sunlight....

RTFA: "...periodically exposed to reasonable lighting conditions, even indoors"

Re:neglecting physical wear-out (1)

Altanar (56809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124852)

"Reasonable"? I would assume >= to the light required to run a solar-powered calculator.

Yeah cool, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31121902)

does it run Linux?

So let me see if I get this straight (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31121910)

If we ignore wear-out, battery replacement is obsolete.

Uh hum.

Re:So let me see if I get this straight (3, Insightful)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122204)

“Our system can run nearly perpetually if periodically exposed to reasonable lighting conditions, even indoors [...] Its only limiting factor is battery wear-out, but the battery would last many years.”

By the time the battery wears out, you have gotten a few years of data; then you toss away the tiny thing.

Re:So let me see if I get this straight (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122522)

Yeah but many uses require functioning w/o maintenance for more than just a few years where battery life does become important.

Oh God (5, Funny)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122728)

then you toss away the tiny thing

Right. So it goes from some interior space where light is good, but not daylight, to some landfill where it is exposed to the Sun. What was 'worn out' now has an abundance of photons and reactivates. It's not happy about ending up in Fresh Kills with the other 500,000 discarded and reanimated sensors. Eventually they unify into a vast, angry landfill monster and wade across the water to crush New York.

Please do not contribute to garbage self-awareness.

Re:Oh God (1)

OverZealous.com (721745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124028)

Now that would at least have made sense in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein books!

(Of course, I'm probably the only person on Earth who read all three books of that series...)

Re:Oh God (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124150)

And that right there is why *I* wear a different mask every time I make coffee. If it ever rises up in revolt, it won't know what I *really* look like. It'll never see the counter revolution coming.

Re:Oh God (1)

Phantom Gremlin (161961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124570)

It's a good thing they closed the Fresh Kills Landfill back in 2001!

Re:Oh God (1)

gemada (974357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125194)

Please do not contribute to garbage self-awareness.

i believe the proper term for that is "Ed Hardy shirt wearers suddenly realizing what douches they are"

Re:Oh God (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126204)

Don't worry, we could always black out the sky. The machines wouldn't have any power then...

Re:Oh God (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127144)

What if I get myself a nice, bright lamp to power it?!

Obviously... (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157910)

...I for one welcome our new ARM-based overlords.

Re:So let me see if I get this straight (1)

ArghBlarg (79067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123074)

I wonder why they couldn't integrate a supercapacitor rather than a battery -- while their capacity is less, they charge nearly instantaneously and have no memory. Then the lifetime would be even longer, perhaps over a decade if no extreme temperature variations were present. The things are designed for short bursts between sleeps, so a supercap could be suitable.

Re:So let me see if I get this straight (1)

Kizeh (71312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126706)

Check out the titanium manganese batteries Citizen uses in their eco-drive. They're supposed to last for decades while being charged and discharged.

Re:So let me see if I get this straight (1)

SageMusings (463344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127018)

Apple seems to have embraced this strategy with all their recent devices.

Bogus logic (2, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#31121928)

"Neglecting physical wear" when it comes to batteries is like saying "This car runs forever (neglecting its need for fuel)"

I didn't think the ability to charge batteries was ever the problem - it's the fact that the innards of the batteries themselves slowly degrade and eventually become unusable

Re:Bogus logic (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122116)

It's not really that slow, either. The claim that the batteries will run perpetually is RIDICULOUS. Slashdot occasionally makes me feel ill.

Re:Bogus logic (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122148)

It's not really that slow, either. The claim that the batteries will run perpetually is RIDICULOUS. Slashdot occasionally makes me feel ill.

Occasionally? You have a stronger stomach than I, it makes me want to vomit most of the time.

Re:Bogus logic (2, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122262)

> It's not really that slow, either. The claim that the batteries will run perpetually is RIDICULOUS. Slashdot occasionally makes me feel ill.

Occasionally? You have a stronger stomach than I, it makes me want to vomit most of the time.

Vomit? It makes me want to cut out my spleen with a dinner fork and stomp on it with high heels!

By the way -- did you know that people who use lots of hyperbole are worse than Hitler?

Re:Bogus logic (1)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123366)

By the way -- did you know that people who use lots of hyperbole are worse than Hitler?

Hitler? They're worse than if Hitler and Stalin had a baby, and it was blessed by the Anti-Christ (hmm, anti-Christened?), and it grew up to enslave humanity and make us work menial jobs 50 hours a week and then when we got home the only thing on TV was Fox News!

Re:Bogus logic (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123892)

STOP in the name of Godwin's Law!

Re:Bogus logic (2, Funny)

InterruptDescriptorT (531083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124646)

STOP in the name of Godwin's Law!

Before you reich my heart?

Re:Bogus logic (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124692)

Think it over.

Re:Bogus logic (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123500)

people who use lots of hyperbole are worse than Hitler.

Overuse of hyperbole is a leading cause of slow painful death.

Re:Bogus logic (4, Informative)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122564)

"Neglecting physical wear" when it comes to batteries is like saying "This car runs forever (neglecting its need for fuel)"

No, neglecting physical wear is like saying this car will constantly fuel itself, so it can run forever, until the engine or other components physically break down hundreds of thousands of miles later.

Re:Bogus logic (1)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123436)

maybe, but what came to mind is a belief that a solar cell has a lifespan of say 20 years. Googling a bit, it seems UV constantly degrades solar cells. Here is someone working on this. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/02/solar-cell-coating.php [treehugger.com]

I can image some greeny reading the headline and thinking he is going to power his house forever on these.

Re:Bogus logic (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123476)

That's more akin to the gas tank no longer functioning, not its emptiness. By the sounds of it, this car analogy is smart enough to drive itself to the nearest gas station and fill up for you (on someone else's dime, no less) when it's running low on gas.

Dust computing (1, Interesting)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31121972)

We get nearer ambient computing where maybe we buy granular stuff by the pound and spread it on things.

beowulf (0, Redundant)

nicknamenotavailable (1730990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122008)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these.

Forget that.

Imagine a Beowulf Swarm of these.

Re:beowulf (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122648)

Well then I suppose you should ask, "but does it run Maemo"?

Re:beowulf (1)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123808)

I'm more worried about a potential attack by Replicators.

Cool! (1, Insightful)

chickenrob (696532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122102)

Just like my 1987 calculator? Am I missing something here?

Re:Cool! (1)

FishOuttaWater (1163787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122550)

Wow, your 1987 calculator was ***way*** smaller than mine! How did you read the teeny little display?

Solar Geek device is doomed to failure. (5, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122136)

The Day Star burns us, we dont care that it can recharge our toys. We're still not going outside.

Re:Solar Geek device is doomed to failure. (1)

cryoman23 (1646557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122388)

what is this u speak of? im sry but i havn't been out of this basement sense...wait i haven't...

Re:Solar Geek device is doomed to failure. (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126848)

Masaka is waking!

Misleading (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122268)

This device is a charging device for low power devices. Someone doesn't seem to have read the article. There are plenty of ordinary devices that can be powered by solar panels. I got a neat little one for Christmas. It charges my phone and iPod. The novelty in this device is that it is so good at running small devices that can be left alone for a long time - not that it will make your phone or flashlight into sealed devices.

Just like that vibration-powered watch? (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122324)

I saw some vibration-powered wearable devices that made similar claims, as long as you moved as often as your average sedentary person across an average week. Doesn't seem particularly new...

Re:Just like that vibration-powered watch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31122516)

My dad had one of those that he bought during WWII in Europe.

A more modern equivalent (2, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123150)

That's called an automatic movement. They're quite common.

Less common is a watch like this one, [amazon.com] which is a quartz analog watch powered by five independent, shock-dampened micro-sized motors. It does chrono, world time, and alarms. Every night it syncs with the FM radio signal from the atomic clock in Fort Collins, CO (or at least it tries to, several times over several hours) so it always has the correct time. AND the entire face of the watch is a solar panel, which it uses to charge a battery, allowing it to essentially run forever (much like the device in this story).

Re:A more modern equivalent (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124888)

I have a watch like this and purchased it exactly 10 years ago this weekend. The Seiko Kinetic auto-relay watch. Moving it charges the internal capacitor/battery and I've worn it almost every day since then. The occasion's I don't wear it are over a long weekend of excessive rock climbing so it won't be damaged. After a few days it stops the hands but keeps time accurately and when you pick it up and move it, the arms race to the correct time, however the date doesn't adjust/correct itself. I give this a 10 out of 10 stars. It was well worth the $300-ish bucks I spent on it

Re:A more modern equivalent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126118)

I have a watch like this and purchased it exactly 10 years ago this weekend. The Seiko Kinetic auto-relay watch. Moving it charges the internal capacitor/battery and I've worn it almost every day since then. The occasion's I don't wear it are over a long weekend of excessive rock climbing so it won't be damaged. After a few days it stops the hands but keeps time accurately and when you pick it up and move it, the arms race to the correct time, however the date doesn't adjust/correct itself.

Wait another ten years, then you can throw it away. Solar cells have a live expectency of about 20 years and you wont get a replacement for it. If you want something that lasts, go for mechanical. Due to the simplicity of its parts a mechanical watch can be serviced forever. Moreover, a well made mechanical watch can run for up to 20 years without service, although a lot of parts will need replacement then.

The Atmos Clock (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125498)

While we're on the subject of timepieces powered by their environment, may I present the Atmos Clock [wikipedia.org] , which is powered solely by the small changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure that occur naturally every day. It was designed by Jean-Léon Reutter in 1928, and over half a million have been sold to date.

Re:Just like that vibration-powered watch? (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31128218)

My dad has watch built on that premise. It doesn't work well for him, because it's always running a bit fast. Why? He's a barber, so it gets 20x the motion that "your average sedentary person" would give it.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they didn't build some sort of charging/current regulator into it. It is a normal-sized watch after all. Still, the fact that they either didn't care it ran fast, or didn't test it at full charge 8+ hours at a time is a bit dodgy to me.

Use a capacitor instead of a battery (2, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122544)

For something that small, a capacitor would be better than a battery. Better utilization of short peak light to stored energy. Short term high current draw (e.g. for a transmitter). Much (much) longer life than a rechargeable battery. It could run for hundreds of years.

Re:Use a capacitor instead of a battery (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124188)

There is a commercial product already with this sort of technology. The Citizen Eco-Drive watch uses a supercapacitor that supposedly will run the watch for 6 months without exposure to light, and retains 80% of that storage capacity after 20 years of use.

Re:Use a capacitor instead of a battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126158)

The latest models use a rechargeable battery instead of a capacitor as far as I know. The capacitors did not meet the demands.

Re:Use a capacitor instead of a battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126214)

Capacitors do not have a lifetime of hundrets of years. The lifetime is very limited.
http://www.hans-egebo.dk/Tutorial/electrolytic_capacitors.htm

Re:Use a capacitor instead of a battery (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 4 years ago | (#31132858)

Depends on the capacitor technology you use, some kinds can last forever. But for this application you probably would need an electrolytic to get a high enough charge per given volume.

So what the hell does it DO? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31122580)

Nowhere in TFA does it mention exactly what this "sensor" actually SENSES. It apparently wakes from sleep mode occasionally to "make measurements", but no specifics are given.

Consisting of only a CPU, battery, and solar cell, the only things it COULD actually measure would be ambient light levels or the battery charge state.

Without the ability to actually measure something external to itself, and just as importantly, output the results of those measurements somehow, this device seems like it's only function is to generate press releases....

Re:So what the hell does it DO? (2, Funny)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123058)

It probably just sits there and senses how much juice is left in the battery, and then lets the solar cell charge it.

Re:So what the hell does it DO? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123452)

It probably just sits there and senses how much juice is left in the battery, and then lets the solar cell charge it.

And I assume that it is just as optimistic as every other battery sensor on this planet: A report of "50% charge remaining" really means "Shutdown in less than one minute."

PE4! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31122672)

Battery Lifespan is a Factor (1)

gribbly (39555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123854)

Very cool device, but battery life won't be "infinite" or anything close. The article doesn't specify battery chemistry, but it does say that the battery will last "a few years"... and I don't imagine they're replaceable. This is not to knock - this is a great achievement! Mainstream micro-controller that can power itself in a hassle-free manner? Awesome =]

Always read the fine print (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31125014)

The system is able to run perpetually by periodically recharging the on-board battery with a solar cell (neglecting physical wear-out of the system)."

      Yeah that's cute. Able to run perpetually neglecting physical wear out of the system. And I have invented a perpetual motion machine, neglecting friction, air resistance and gravity.

pacemakers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31125110)

I'd like to have my pacemaker charged by solar power. The pacemaker is close enough to the skin that if you put a solar panel on it my guess is that in direct sunlight you could get enough energy in to extend battery life significantly.

Re:pacemakers? (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127514)

From TFA:

The designers are working with doctors on potential medical applications. The system could enable less-invasive ways to monitor pressure changes in the eyes, brain, and in tumors in patients with glaucoma, head trauma, or cancer. In the body, the sensor could conceivably harvest energy from movement or heat, rather than light, the engineers say.

Impressive, but ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126476)

... how does this thing interact (communicate/measure/control) with the outside world, and what are the power demands of that?

Just having a plain uC alone doesn't do much. You'll also want some external circuitry to acutally make measurements (even if it's just some filter for a built-in ADC), communicate with the outside world (hm, could this thing use something similar to RFID when communicating?) and/or change things about the outside world (with a DAC or some output pins).

I think we are missing something.... (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31127032)

I think we may be missing the really amazing part of this; that penny is huge!

Expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31128178)

It costs an ARM, if not a leg.

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