We all know telecom is going to play a major role in the implementation of smart cities and the Internet of Things. We’ve had a few things to say about that before. But now, we’ve stumbled upon a Dutch startup called Nowi that’s looking to use 4G and the telecom industry to power smart devices in a new smart way.
New ways to power IoT
When you think of the internet of things you often think of well, the internet itself. Each and every device or sensor that will measure and detect things needs to send that information somewhere. But, it also needs to be powered. Now, the Dutch startup Nowi — which spun out of the renowned TU Delft — is hitting the roads across the Netherlands with unique power sensors that run off of telecom GSM (Global Signal for Mobile) signals and feeding sensors themselves.
Unlike other Internet of Things sensors, the sensors created by Nowi don’t need batteries. Instead, these sensors get their energy right from the 4G signal that’s emitted through the GSM underground. Now, this idea isn’t totally new. But, how the startup is applying this technology to something as relevant as IoT and smart cities is.
“We can convert the wifi’s electromagnetic wave to a small stream and we use it to feed the sensor,” explained Van der Jagt, a founder of Nowi. “If you have thousands of sensors in a building, you do not want to replace all the batteries in those sensors every few months.”
Transforming the industry
Last week the first sensors were laid down in Amsterdam where they’ll help make infrastructure maintenance — like these roads — smarter. The Nowi sensors, which run off the 4G signal from the GSM provided by T Mobile, will be able to measure the temperature of the road so that maintenance knows if they need to lay down more salt in the winter, for example.
But what’s interesting about these sensors is that they can be “plugged and forgotten” — meaning there’s little to no maintenance for cities that implement them. Smart tech like this is a big incentive for communities looking to make an investment in smart technology, and could even be a deciding factor.
The future of 4G
4G and the inevitable 5G technology is going to be hugely powerful — from powering our IoT devices in our cities and our cars to connecting us on the go and giving enterprises reliable redundancies (check out Blended Connectivity).
And as we see it, Nowi’s sensors are a pretty innovative implementation of 4G technology. As everyone else in the industry is debating whether or not our networks can even handle the IoT boom we’re bound to see (we don’t think they can, you can read about it here) it’s interesting to look at the wireless networks and realize they could power these very sensors, too.