Semtech hails new ‘zero-maintenance, zero-carbon’ energy-harvesting LoRa solution
Semiconductor maker Semtech has announced a new LoRa-based solution, combining a power-efficient microcontroller and an edge tracker module, that harvests ambient energy from the environment to preclude the need for a battery completely. The California-based firm called the solution “maintenance free” and “zero carbon”, and hailed it as “one of the most power-efficient” IoT solutions on the market.
Semtech worked with Japan-based Ryoden Corporation, part of Mitsubishi Electric Group, and maker of air-conditioning units and factory automation systems, as well as LoRa solutions and LoRaWAN connectivity, and also Japanese semiconductor maker Renesas. The latter provided the microcontroller (MCU), from its new Renesas RE Family, billed as the “world’s most energy efficient MCU” by the company itself.
The RE Family MCU is based on the Arm Cortex M0+, and consists of a built-in controller which can make a “battery-less, maintenance-free product, ideal for energy harvesting applications”, according to Semtech. The Renesas MCU combines with Semtech’s LR1110 edge platform to connect to the cloud, which brings “enhanced security features” to help protect embedded IoT devices from viral infections and eavesdropping.
The LR1110 (‘LoRa Edge’) chip, launched in early 2020, features a LoRa transceiver, a passive Wi-Fi scanner, and a multi-constellation GNSS scanner, and offers Wi-Fi and GNSS geolocation in as little as 80 milliseconds and 1.65 seconds, respectively. These functions combine with a LoRa transceiver in a single software defined radio, which limits the module to one activity at a time, allowing for optimised low-power operation, from 100MHz to 1GHz.
Target applications for the LR1110 / Renesas RE Family combination unit include asset tracking and management of goods through the supply chain, plus other use cases requiring continuous indoor or outdoor tracking.
Shiro Kamohara, senior principal specialist in Renesas’ low-power product department, said: “Demand for green energy solutions is increasing. The energy harvesting RE Family represents the evolution of MCU products that have the advantages of being maintenance-free while keeping top-class efficiency. Through our collaboration with Semtech, we are able to offer a cost-efficient green energy solution for our customers.”
Sree Durbha, director of product management in Semtech’s wireless and sensing products group, said: “With the low power nature and end-to-end security of the LoRa Edge platform, the embedded LoRa Basics Modem-E native modem software operating on the LoRaWAN standard, and the LoRa Cloud geolocation and device and application services, the Renesas RE Family is one of the most power-efficient MCUs available on the market.”