IoT Sensors: The Advantages of Miniaturization and Long Battery Lifetime

Øystein Moldsvor
VP Engineering

When you think about IoT sensors, what do you see? Bulky hardware with an external antenna sticking out? I've used and studied many of these solutions throughout my career, which started in the semi-conductor industry and brought me into IoT.

These products are acceptable for applications like monitoring CO2 levels in a meeting room, humidity in a storage unit, or installing only a few devices.

Yet, the challenge arises when we consider deploying these sensors on a large scale. Imagine monitoring the occupancy of thousands of desks in a multi-story office building or keeping track of temperatures in fridges and freezers across a nationwide fleet of grocery stores. Suddenly, the questions shift from functionality to practicality, longevity, and cost.

That's where our breakthrough at Disruptive Technologies comes in. We have engineered tiny IoT sensors, no bigger than a postage stamp, with an unheard-of 15-year battery life. How did we do it?

Photo courtesy of Øystein Moldsvor

Well, it's a culmination of our experience with ultra-low-power semiconductors and a dedication to pushing boundaries. 

Miniaturization has proven to be one of the main enablers for many technologies. Just think about cell phones. They were useful in the eighties when you could start carrying them around. But they impacted our lives on an entirely different scale when they became sufficiently small so everyone could bring them in their pockets. 

We believe the same is happening for sensors, and here, I want to discuss why size, among other things, matters.

Size and Longevity Count When it Comes to Environmental Impact

Our commitment to miniaturization and long battery lifetime extends beyond technological innovation—it is about environmental sustainability. By designing compact sensors with extended battery life, we have made mass deployment possible and mitigated the environmental impact of large-scale rollouts. 

Miniaturizing the sensors so dramatically involved making our own integrated circuit, DT Silicon, customizing several sensor parts, and developing custom manufacturing methodologies. We took on this (not-so-small) challenge to make mass adoption of sensors possible without compromising sustainability and harming our environment.

Reduced Transportation Emissions

Miniaturized sensors drastically reduce transportation emissions. They take up significantly less space during shipping, reducing carbon emissions and making our supply chain greener. We can fit one thousand Disruptive Technologies sensors into a box that fits into the palm of your hand. 

Greener Production

Then there's the environmental impact of production. Traditional sensors require larger batteries and components, increasing material and chemical usage. But our sensors are efficient and resource-conscious, minimizing environmental impact, starting with manufacturing. 

Longer Life, Less Replacement

With a 15-year battery life, our sensors don't need frequent changing, which means less waste and a more sustainable approach to IoT deployment. Even after 15 years, the tiny size of the sensors means significantly less waste to dispose of. 

This point becomes clear when comparing the batteries used in various sensors. While many sensors rely on two AA alkaline batteries weighing around 24 grams, Disruptive Technologies employs batteries weigh just 0.8 grams. The difference is 60X, considerably reducing chemical waste solely from batteries. Moreover, competing sensors typically boast a battery lifespan of five-to-seven years, requiring at least four AA batteries each over 15 years. This translates to a significant 120 times increase in chemical waste.

Bottom Line

Our commitment to miniaturization and battery life isn't about being the smallest and the smartest—it's about environmental responsibility. It's about making large-scale sensor deployment simple and cost-effective while reducing our ecological footprint. At Disruptive Technologies, we're not just changing the game but playing it with the planet in mind.

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