On recharging (and powering the Internet Of Things)

Dear Marcus

I remember my mom used to say, that spring and summer is where we recharge in preparation for the long Scandinavian fall and winter. On sunny days, she’d take a chair, bring it outside and close her eyes and turn her face towards the sun. To my young mind, she could sit like that in what seemed like hours. Also, she did look like somebody recharging — very peaceful and calm. More cynical minds might have compared that behavior to that of cold-blooded reptiles — but in a good way, of course…

The recharging ethos is spreading these days. From the early days of so-called green energy, with large farms of solar panels, solar roof tiles and fields of windmills, the time has now finally come for our gadgets, sensors, and appliances to collect ambient energy and run off of that. They, too, need a few minutes in the sun or to be heated by warmth or maybe to be shaken up, stirred or prodded. They need to be recharged with some form of energy, to be able to get on with their jobs.

These days, most of us don’t even know or care, what is happening. To me, it seems most of us have forgotten that back in the bad old days, every new gadget needed either batteries or access to a powerline. Today, sensors are cheap, durable and omnipresent, partly because they can harvest ambient energy which makes it MUCH simpler to install them. I mean, back in the twenties, you pretty much still needed an engineering degree to set up a simple, intelligent lighting system.

This weekend, I installed maybe 24 or 26 sensors from a pretty generic “House Care Package” from Home Depot. It took me about an hour, and I spend most of that time scouting good strategic places, near heaters, water pipes, windows, etc. where they still wouldn’t be seen. After installation, I verified with my house system, that over 20 new sensors had been installed in the house and they became part of the private infrastructure and monitoring system. Hopefully, I’ll never hear from them again — but I have high hopes, that humidity, temperature and general indoor climate will improve over the next few days, after my house systems learn to use its new senses.


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