Panasonic has developed a tiny, low-power chip for sensor networks and Internet-connected appliances, which it says is the first to support a broad range of frequency bands.
The new chip, which measures about 5 millimeters square, can send and receive signals for over 20 years on a 1,200mAh battery, if used to transmit twice a minute, the company said. It maintains the device is the first such multiband chip to support frequencies above 1GHz, and can be used with 400MHz, 900MHz, 1.2GHz, and 2.4GHz frequency bands.
"We are considering smart meters and smart home appliances as the first application," wrote Panasonic spokesman Takahiro Asano in an email. He said the chips' low power consumption also make them suitable for remote sensors used to measure temperature and humidity, soil conditions or construction projects.
Networks of tiny sensors that run without human intervention are increasingly being deployed in agriculture and other applications, increasing the need for cheap devices that can operate for months or years without an outside power source. Panasonic said it hopes to promote the spread of so-called machine-to-machine networks, in which sensors transmit their data directly to remote servers.
The chip, which cuts power use by about a third over existing single-band devices, is designed to automatically detect the radio frequencies of the networks in which it operates, the company said.
Panasonic said the device is meant to be used for networks set up under standards being developed by IEEE 802.15 Task Group 4, which was formed to look at low-data transmissions that require very little power.
Asano declined to comment on when the chips will be put to use in the company's products, but said it is also considering selling them to outside clients.