ZED paves the way for a battery-free Internet of Things

2022-03-22

Start-up ZED is working on a battery-free Internet of Things. They are joining a trade mission to Dubai this week.

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A smart doorbell, a smart thermostat, or smart lighting. You see them more and more. Appliances that we can control from a distance or that even function autonomously. They are all examples of the ‘Internet of Things‘ (IoT). Sensors provide the connection between appliances and data systems. These need power. In a setting like an airplane, that’s not so convenient, because power often entails a battery, and a battery means weight.

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Start-up ZED, (Zero Energy Development), a TU Delft spin-off, developed wire- and battery-less sensors that run on the energy created by simply pressing a button. Or by buckling your belt. The entrepreneurs, as a student team, won the 2019 Airbus ‘Fly your ideas’ competition. The team then went on to win the TU Delft Impact Contest and after that, the 4TU Impact Challenge. The prize for the Impact Challenge: participation in a trade mission to Dubai. That trip is taking place next week.

Convincing the jury
“The advantage of these sensors is that they are also greener. And you do not have to worry about them. The sensors always work and don’t require very much maintenance,” says Niels Hokke co-founder of ZED. Hokke was still working on his master’s thesis back in 2019, in which he sought a solution to the problems that stem from having a multitude of wireless communication. “So how do you make sure that when you activate all those devices at the same time that the messages don’t collide with each other?” A subject that has formed the basis of the start-up.

He has been a full-time entrepreneur ever since he graduated. Hokke’s three co-founders all still work part-time for TU Delft. “Actually, this is the best of both worlds,” says co-founder Suryansh Sharma, who joined the team after the Airbus competition. He is also a Ph.D. student under Venkatesha Prasadasso, an associate professor within TU Delft’s Embedded and Networked Systems Group (ENS).

Sharma: “Among other things, I wanted to explore whether there is a market for these sensors.” Whereupon Hokke adds, “There were some high-ranking Airbus managers in the jury of the Airbus competition. The fact that we were able to convince them strengthened our conviction that we actually had something good in our hands that we could commercialize.”

Network problem
“Wireless and battery-free sensors are not new,” says Hokke. Within the ENS research group, Prasad has been researching applications of these types of sensors since 2013. The concept that Hokke and his fellow students pitched for the Airbus competition had emerged from within the ENS. ZED mainly focuses on the networking problem posed by large numbers of sensors all together: how can you solve this as effectively as possible using as little energy as possible?

Prasad is also a co-founder of ZED. “As students, Professor VP (as the team calls Prasad, ed.) had already given us all the freedom we wanted to choose our own path. This is no different since we have become a start-up.” The associate professor is part of the team and offers advice. Just like John Schmitz does, former dean of the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at TU Delft. Schmitz also worked as Chief Intellectual Property Officer at NXP Semiconductors, as well as other positions.

Source: https://innovationorigins.com/en/zed-paves-the-way-for-a-battery-free-internet-of-things/

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