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Researcher aims to develop IoT on a fingertip

Posted: 25 Nov 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC  MCU  IoT 

A Berkeley professor who helped pioneer the Internet of Things is now trying to pack a node on a chip—and a fingertip. Kris Pister envisions an SoC that includes not just the MCU and radio, but also the sensors, the antenna, the crystals and even a solar power source.

"You just put it in the light, and it starts connecting with its neighbours," Pister stated at the IDTech event. In fact, the device could have a variety of energy-scavaging blocks that tap into thermal, motion and RF sources. It might even use a relatively high-bandwidth 60GHz radio over very short ranges. "In a world where the display is on your glasses and the computer is in your pocket, you want your accelerometers on your fingertips. That way, you've got your keyboard, mouse, and air guitar whenever you want them."

The technology for the integrated mote is still three to five years off, he said. It requires a laundry list of MEMS advances—perhaps emerging techniques to replace crystals with reference time and frequency from the net and more silicon miniaturisation.

Researcher aims to develop IoT on a fingertip

Figure 1: Berkeley's Gina is a step towards a node on a chip.

The Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, where Pister works, presently makes prototype devices "the size of big, ugly college rings," he said. "I am certain we will have single-chip nodes. We are very close."

The future looks bright, but in Pister's view, the present might be characterized as partly cloudy.

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