Tracking migrating animals is a serious challenge
Researchers and conservation organisations need to track small animals for several years. Replacing batteries has become a major problem for industries and research centers that deploy a big amount of tracking sensors and need reliable uninterrupted data. Some batteries run out of power earlier than others, some of them are difficult to reach. This leads to loss of important data requiring constant monitoring.
Monitoring and tracking migrating animals, especially smaller birds around the globe for research purposes, is one of the most demanding applications one can think of in the whole area of IoT. A good application should be able to do the following:
- Accurate measuring of different parameters (e.g. location, giro temperature);
- Collecting and storing complex data both of the animals and the environment;
- Monitoring migration using precise location data;
- Collecting animal activity information (e.g. with accelerometer and gyrometer)
All these power hungry activities require continuous supply of power for multiple years without any interruption. This is a serious challenge.
The solution that enables long-term data acquisition
Long-term tracking of small species is now possible using small rechargeable batteries which are continuously charged by solar cells. Large quantities of data from several, even power hungry sensors, (e.g. GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer sensor) can now be collected even in low light conditions.
This is possible thanks to e-peas’ Ambient Energy Managers that allow solar cells to recharge batteries in low light conditions and also protect the batteries in extreme environments, for example, in areas with extreme light and high temperatures. The e-peas’ harvester manages the battery voltage preventing undercharging and overcharging, increasing the battery life and the longevity of the tracking device. Potentially, it is also possible to use ambient energy sources such as heat, light, vibration, and ambient electromagnetism. This kind of energy can be found everywhere, even in remote and inaccessible locations that have limited access and minimal infrastructure.
Movetech Telemetry and Miromico’s mini GPS Tracker – Nomad – has this technology already implemented and is used for tracking birds’ movement by researchers at the University of East Anglia and University of Porto. The tracker’s power management is done by e-peas’ AME10941, solar energy can be harvested even in dimmed light conditions.
Once this solution is integrated into the sensor, there will be no need to change the battery, it becomes maintenance-free. e-peas’ AEM will harvest energy and store it for when it is needed.
University of East Anglia and coordinator of the Movetech Telemetry group
Aldina Franco from University of East Anglia and coordinator of the Movetech Telemetry group said:
“Low-weight tracking devices can be deployed on smaller species (the tracking devices need to be less than 3% of the weight of the animals. So, smaller tracking devices can be used on a larger number of species. Integrating solar harvester solutions will enable tracking small species for longer. “
Legend: Dr. Catry from University of Porto releasing a Kestrel with a Nomad device, joint project with University of East Anglia.
4 immediate benefits of using energy harvesting sensors
- Prolonged lifetime – no gaps in monitoring. Energy harvesting creates the conditions for more frequent data reporting and always-on, real-time connection of your equipment and assets. More than that, the Nomad’s sensors adapt, measuring their harvesting and dynamically adjusting power use to suit operational and reporting constraints you set.
- Simplification and ease of use – Energy harvesting sensors have a simple plug and play installation. This means, any employee can install the self-powered sensor to a machine, and it is ready to process data immediately.
- Maintenance-free – Energy harvesting sensors do not need routine maintenance, they work non-stop without battery changes. A storage element or a rechargeable battery is continuously charged by one of the ambient energy sources. Furthermore, this makes self-powered sensors an ideal choice for remote monitoring in hard to access locations and sites with limited existing infrastructure.
Zero-waste – Energy harvesting sensors are vital for reducing a plants overall energy usage and reaching zero-waste in terms of batteries disposal. The simplicity of harvesting energy from the surrounding environment, something that is already there, and using it generates zero waste.
Nomad tracker technical specs
Miromico offers two types of sensors available for monitoring:
- LoRaWAN® class A compliant device
- Supports EU868, US915, AU915, AS923
- Low power GNSS module with integrated antenna
- Ultra-small and lightweight (4 grams)
- Stores 100’000 locations and transmits them when in range of a network
- E-peas Solar Ambient Energy Manager (PMIC) for autarkic operation
- 100mAh rechargeable battery for continuous supply
The inclusion of the e-peas energy harvesting component means that these measurable elements are continuously monitored, non-stop.
There is e-peas’ AEM10941 used in Miromico trackers. It is meant specifically for solar energy harvesting and can harvest energy even in low light conditions.
- AEM10941 – Solar Energy Harvester
- Vin 50 mV to 5 V
- Cold start 3 μW @ 380 mV
- Pin 3 μW to 550 mW
- Pout 20 mA @ 1.2/1.8 V and 80 mA @ 1.8-4.1 V
- Package QFN28, 5 x 5 mm
How to purchase the sensor?
The Nomad is the flagship of our tracker portfolio. It comprises all elements of the larger trackers and weighs only four grams. It includes a high-quality u-blox GPS receiver, an acceleration sensor, a gyroscope, and air pressure and temperature sensor.
Please do not hesitate to contact us through our contact form on our website if you have questions or specific requirements.
e-peas develops and markets disruptive ultra-low power semiconductor technology which enables industrial and IoT wireless product designers to substantially extend battery lifespans and eliminate the heavy call-out costs of replacing batteries, without in any way compromising on reliability. Relying on 15 years of research and patented intellectual property, the company’s products increase the amount of harvested energy and drastically reduce the energy consumption of all power consuming blocks within wireless sensor nodes. Headquartered in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, with additional offices in Switzerland and the USA, e-peas offers a portfolio of energy harvesting power management interface ICs, microcontrollers and sensor solutions. www.e-peas.com
Rue Fond Cattelain, 1 box 4,
Movetech Telemetry is an academic partnership that produces lightweight tracking devices for the study of animal movements. GPS, accelerometer and temperature data are remotely transmitted directly to your study page. Flexible programming and remote upload of new settings ensures that devices can adapt to changes in environmental conditions, data that can be collected every few minutes. We are experts in animal movement and design bespoke solutions based on the species that need to be tracked. Devices are shipped from the United Kingdom. Contact us via email@example.com
Miromico is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, founded in 2002 by the three electronics engineers Michael Oberle, Robert Reutemann, and Michael Ruegg, reflected in the company name.
While initially focussing on the development of miniaturised electronic devices for biomedical applications, Miromico soon expanded to engineering services in integrated circuit design and electronic systems. The engineering team has constantly been growing in response to the demand by satisfied customers.
Since its foundation in 2002, Miromico AG has grown continuously in Integrated Circuits and Embedded Systems and has established a reputation as an innovative and reliable partner.
At the beginning of 2020, Miromico’s two business units – Embedded Systems and Integrated Circuits – were split into independent public companies. Miromico AG focuses on Embedded Systems and IoT areas.
The new administration focuses on the further development of innovative products and engineering services in IoT.