These Zigbee home automation devices need no batteries or wires – ITworld

You’re probably most familiar with piezoelectricity as the generator of the spark that lights the gas stove, but it’s finding a new application in Las Vegas this week: lighting up the living room.

Energy-harvesting controls for home automation have been a thing since at least 2001, when Siemens set up a new company, EnOcean, to commercialize the piezo-powered wireless light switches it had developed. Pushing on the rocker switches generated just enough piezoelectrical energy to broadcast a 128-bit “telegram” to radio modules inside light fixtures, electrical outlets or control hubs.

EnOcean has since added other energy sources to its range, powering environmental sensors with tiny photovoltaic panels and controlling radiator valves by generating energy from the temperature difference between the inside and the outside of the valve.

When Siemens created EnOcean, the wireless protocols of the day required more power than the piezoelectric system could generate, so the company rolled its own, setting up the EnOcean Alliance to promote its use. Now, the company says, over 150 manufacturers sell electrical fittings containing its energy-harvesting and radio technologies.

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