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AutonoMous self powered miniAturized iNtelligent sensor for environmental sensing anD asset tracking in smArt IoT environments

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AMANDA (AutonoMous self powered miniAturized iNtelligent sensor for environmental sensing anD asset tracking in smArt IoT environments)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

The next phase of digital transformation has arrived in the field of Electronic Smart Systems (ESS), reaching to the far edges of the networks, with connections to billions of devices and objects collecting and transmitting data from ever evolving sensors. This new wave of innovation extends digital intelligence beyond dedicated devices making sensors integral in digital ecosystems. Smart sensors have evolved from discrete devices designed to detect specific properties (e.g. light, heat, motion), to fully integrated sensor systems, offering enhanced computing capabilities, connected within any number of autonomous systems. There has been a shift towards miniaturization of ESS, bringing new concepts and technologies that will benefit the environment of smart cities, such as air quality monitoring, temperature, humidity, noise and occupancy as well as people- or asset- security (imaging, tracking, fingerprint, data privacy, cybersecurity). In order to release the potentiality of ESSs, it is crucial to optimize the size, cost, materials, design and manufacturing processes. AMANDA develops a unique Autonomous Smart Sensing Card (ASSC) with the size, feel and look of a credit card, ideal for easy deploy in buildings (smart living environments) or as wearables (bikes, valuable assets, people). The project covers the triangle of experimentation, development and standardization in order to optimise the materials behaviour, connectivity, miniaturization, power consumption, security, intelligence, design and cost. AMANDA’s vision is to overcome the existing technological challenges and achieve the development of a user-friendly wearable platform not only for indoor & outdoor environmental sensing, but also for asset- and people- tracking. A combination of new developed, optimised, existing innovative off-the-shelf or close-to-commercialization sensor technologies are selected and integrated into the ASSC, including air quality, temperature, humidity, image, long-range tracking, innovative PVs and batteries, all packed in under 3mm thickness will introduce technical breakthroughs that will boost further miniaturisation, offer increased sensitivity, small footprint, ultra-low power consumption and a maintenance-free lifetime of more than 10 years.
AMANDA aims to advance further the limits of ESS in the areas of energy autonomy, decision making, maintenance-free lifetime and miniaturization. Therefore, market research, a SoA and GAP analysis were conducted on the above areas. To shape the potential use cases and their requirements, market surveys on potential end-users were conducted. Their output resulted to a definition of three ASSC versions (indoor, outdoor, wearable) as well as the power requirements for different application scenarios. Six use cases and nineteen different scenarios have also been defined, that will verify the capabilities of the ASSC and provide potential solutions to existing problems. An energy simulation tool was built to predict the energy behavior of the ASSC and provide an appropriate low-power strategy ahead of the design process. The system specifications and the overall architecture and design were derived from the use cases and their requirements. On the sensors side, a temperature, touch, CO2 and image sensor are at the final stages of development, while their integration with the ASSC has already been designed. These sensors will be complimented by five off-the-shelf sensors (accelerometer, light sensor, microphone, magnetometer, a temperature-humidity-pressure-VOC multisensory) that have been selected, after evaluation, to form the sensory interface for the use cases. A first version of the E-peas microcontroller has been used to evaluate the interoperability of the off-the-shelf sensors as well as previous versions of the AMANDA temperature and touch sensors. Firmware has been developed for driving the sensors and other important system utilities. For decision making, an initial version of the data fusion and edge intelligence engines have been designed and new models are being added during the development process. The AMANDA additions to the area of energy harvesting are a miniaturized battery and a solar harvester with advanced power characteristics. A first version of AMANDA’s PMIC is used to provide the required power to the system and control the flow of energy from the harvester to the battery. AMANDA hardware design features BLE, LoRa and NFC wireless connectivity. BLE has already been implemented in firmware and tested. Furthermore, security considerations have been examined both in hardware- and software-level to comply with the security specifications. The testbed for the above features was an initial prototype that led to the design of a 1st unconstrained prototype. The unconstrained prototype, that has been manufactured and is under testing, includes all off-the shelf components of the AMANDA architecture and primary versions of the AMANDA PMIC, CO2, temperature and touch sensors, which are controlled by an initial version of the E-peas microcontroller. Even though it is further down the development road map, preliminary work has been carried out in order to define the validation methodology both in use-case and component level. Finally, a dissemination and communication plan was created. Different types of media were created to promote the project through social networks or with presence in trade fairs, conferences and other events. An advisory board was formed by research and industry experts to provide feedback for aligning the project with market needs and a first meeting to introduce the board to the project was held online.
The sensors developed and/or optimised for the ASSC are highly sensitive, with a low-cost, low-power performance and a small/thin form factor, with an extended lifetime. Microdul’s capacitive switch, unlike capacitive sensors available on the market, does not require external components and hence minimises the required PCB area. Furthermore, Microdul’s silicon bandgap temperature sensor has a low cost, minuscule size and has the availability of electronic processing to increase the accuracy of the measurements, to compensate second and higher order non-idealities and to provide the temperature results as digital information. IMEC-NL’s sensing platform is based on printed ionic liquids on semiconductor surfaces for CO2 sensing. An image sensor developed by E-peas that uses a novel pixel architecture is under development, which allows for an energy reduction by two orders of magnitude when compared to existing VGA resolution image sensors. E-peas’ ultra-low power MCU requires only a few micro-amperes per MHz of running frequency. Lightricity has developed a new Photovoltaic technology especially designed to harvest energy from indoor low-lighting environments. E-peas introduced a new power management integrated circuit, fully dedicated to autonomous sensors due to the ASSC's reduced footprint and a quiescent current of around 200. Additionally, AMANDA applies software engineering optimization techniques to develop data fusion strategies and algorithms to minimize the energy requirements for data processing, as well as low-power algorithms that provide edge intelligence at the ASSC level. The expected impact starts with the R&D results that are easily measured through the scientific publications as well as the successful participation in numerous events as invited project.