The biggest obstacle to large scale implementation of wireless sensors in manufacturing is the battery. If you are going to put sensors in hard-to-reach areas, then you don't want to have to go back often and replace batteries--for example a vibration sensor on every motor in every hidden location.
If this product works as billed, it is truly a breakthrough in that application. British company Perpetuum has launched "the world's first truly effective" vibration energy harvester to power wireless and battery-free devices capable of sending large amounts of data from many types of industrial equipment. The PMG7 high-performance microgenerator enables users to power sensors, microprocessors and transmitters for accurately monitoring the condition of plant equipment and machinery without the need for batteries, expensive cabling or maintenance. The easy-to-install solution is now available to OEMs, sensor manufacturers and end-users in all industries, allowing them to make significant cost savings.
The microgenerator converts kinetic energy from the vibration of the equipment running at mains frequency (50 or 60Hz) into electrical energy. It can generate up to 5mW which is enough to power a wireless transmitter sending up to 6Kbytes of critical data every few minutes, or smaller amounts of data - such as a temperature reading - several times a second. It is a practical device which can operate in most industrial environments and at minimal vibration levels (25mg).
RLW Inc of State College, Pa., selected the Perpetuum microgenerator to power its S5NAP wireless sensor nodes. These devices have been used to demonstrate that the PMG7 can readily provide the necessary energy for even the most demanding sensor applications such as accelerometers.
Perpetuum, a spin-out company from the University of Southampton, was founded in 2004.
Updated: fixed links. Have a problem writing in Word, saving as text, then pasting into blog editor. Sorry.