Enabling Low-Latency Bluetooth Low Energy on Energy Harvesting Batteryless Devices Using Wake-Up Radios

Abstract

With the growth of the number of IoT devices, the need for changing batteries is becoming cumbersome and has a significant environmental impact. Therefore, batteryless and maintenance-free IoT solutions have emerged, where energy is harvested from the ambient environment. Energy harvesting is relevant mainly for the devices that have a low energy consumption in the range of thousands of micro-watts. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is one of the most popular technologies and is highly suitable for such batteryless energy harvesting devices. Specifically, the BLE friendship feature allows a Low Power Node (LPN) to sleep most of the time. An associated friend node (FN) temporarily stores the LPN’s incoming data packets. The LPN wakes up and polls periodically to its FN retrieving the stored data. Unfortunately, the LPNs typically experience high downlink (DL) latency. To resolve the latency issue, we propose combining the batteryless LPN with a secondary ultra-low-power wake-up radio (WuR), which enables it to always listen for an incoming wake-up signal (WuS). The WuR allows the FN to notify the LPN when new DL data is available by sending a WuS. This removes the need for frequent polling by the LPN, and thus saves the little valuable energy available to the batteryless LPN. In this article, we compare the standard BLE duty-cycle based polling and WuR-based data communication between an FN and a batteryless energy-harvesting LPN. This study allows optimising the LPN configuration (such as capacitor size, polling interval) based on the packet arrival rate, desired packet delivery ratio and DL latency at different harvesting powers. The result shows that WuR-based communication performs best for high harvesting power (400 μW and above) and supports Poisson packet arrival rates as low as 1 s with maximum PDR using a capacitor of 50 mF or more.

Publication
MDPI Sensors