Patent-pending technology enables global shipment tracking without depleting power sources

SODAQ’s solution ensures that tracking devices continue to function after periods of no network connection available.

Explanation of SODAQ's patent-pending solution designed to prevent batteries from draining after periods of limited or no network connectivity.

SODAQ’s technology to harvest radio frequency energy for network detection is now available in their line of tracking devices.

The Dutch organization SODAQ is a world leader in low-power IoT tracking solutions.

Dutch low-power IoT expert SODAQ files patent for invention that harvests radio frequency (RF) energy for network sensing

Using SODAQ’s technology, assets such as containers can be tracked anywhere in the world without having to worry about running out of battery when there is no communication network coverage.

— Itay Dagan, CTO at SODAQ

HILVERSUM, NOORD-HOLLAND, THE NETHERLANDS, November 9, 2022 / — Global shipment tracking depends on devices and their ability to connect to available networks. If tracking devices are constantly searching for these networks during shipping, this results in depleted power sources – losing the ability to track at all. Thanks to SODAQ’s new patent-pending solution, devices can now detect if there is an available network connection, wherever they are, without wasting energy. By using radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting for grid sensing, power source energy is only used when it is actually needed.

Tracking devices play an important role in reducing risks, such as damage, theft or loss. To send data, these trackers rely on connections to cellular networks around the world. But few things drain a device’s power source faster than trying to connect to a network or send a message when no network is available. While this is a common occurrence for global shipping trackers, it results in an ongoing effort to find connectivity. This continuous search can use 50 to 100 times more power than sending a message when a network is available. This causes batteries or capacitors to die sooner than they should, leading to unnecessarily high power source utilization and loss of tracking capabilities. This challenge is the driving force behind SODAQ’s new patent-pending solution.

RF energy harvesting for network detection
This new invention is an antenna-based sensor that harvests energy to measure if there is an available network. This happens through radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting, as the antenna converts received RF signals into power.

The sensor is placed inside a tracking device that can be positioned in either a tethered or tethered location. Before attempting to connect to a network, the device measures the power harvested from a small capacitor or buffer. Measuring the voltage on the pad shows if it is above a certain threshold. If so, the device can assume that there is an available network and the connection can be established. If the buffer is zero or low, it means there is no network, and sending this message can be ignored. Itay Dagan, CTO at SODAQ: “With SODAQ’s technology, assets such as containers can be tracked anywhere in the world without having to worry about running out of battery when there is no network coverage. communication.”

Little energy needed
Most energy harvesting research focuses on harvesting energy to power devices or store large amounts of energy. This requires high input power levels and large directional antennas. However, in this case much less harvested energy is needed because this energy is only used to detect if there is an available network to send data. When a device decides that there is no network available, it does not need to expend any more power trying to connect to a network. The operating time of the devices is longer when using this solution. When a network becomes available, the device still has the power available to connect and send information until the end of its journey.

Efficiency for global shipments
For this solution, there are several use cases related to global shipping, such as:
– Global sea freight forwarding: long-term allocation or passing through locations without connectivity
– Tracking of trucks and containers, land and sea: shipments distributed in sheltered places without connectivity

An example of a case study: A SODAQ TRACK with an expedition traveling from the port of Rotterdam to Singapore. During his 25 day voyage at sea, he only has connectivity in ports, so he will only connect when relevant. Without the new solution on the TRACK, there would be a constant network search, draining the battery much faster than it should. But now, when the shipment arrives in Singapore, the TRACK still has enough power to connect and stay connected until it arrives at its destination. SODAQ’s tests have proven this solution to be 130 times more efficient compared to existing network detection.

A future without replacing batteries
Dagan gives a glimpse of what the future of supply chain management will be like: “IoT trackers will be able to operate in any environment without having to replace batteries, using all the energy needed from power sources. surrounding energy: sunlight and radio waves.
This will make IoT devices more durable, as far less battery raw materials will be needed to support continuous tracking functions.

SODAQ’s energy harvesting solution is patent pending, but already available in combination with its line of tracking devices.
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