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The Basics

Ambient IoT: What is it? How will it impact Industries and Consumers?

October 28, 2022
Ambient IoT:  What is it? How will it impact Industries and Consumers?
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Ambient IoT: What is it? How will it impact Industries and Consumers?

A new term is starting to appear in the world of IoT - Ambient IoT. Ambient (according to the dictionary) refers to something that is “existing or present on all sides: Encompassing”. Ambient IoT then is truly the “world” of IoT; not just the world of connected computing or expensive items, but rather the connectivity of every item that can benefit from knowledge of its location, condition, or state.

Ambient IoT is a 3GPP IoT device which is much smaller and cheaper compared to previous generations of IoT, like the NB-IoT/LTE-M/RedCap. The ultimate ambient IoT energy source is that from radio waves. The world of Ambient IoT joins Ambient computing (ref 9) as one of the key enablers to the future of cost-efficient technologies that will reshape the way in which items are tracked, monitored, and managed.

Ambient IoT is a burgeoning field, that will likely involve multiple standards bodies. In addition to 3GPP, IEEE and Bluetooth SIG are both considering upcoming standards that will guide this technology into a pervasive and inexpensive standard for use across the consumer and enterprise arenas.

Both Ambient IoT and Ambient computing rely upon energy harvesting as one of the key mechanisms for powering and enabling the technology. Energy harvesting, as it applies to Ambient IoT and Ambient Computing, is the harnessing of the power in ambient radio waves to power tiny computers. This is very similar to the way solar panels harvest visible sunlight to power electric devices. This radio wave energy harvesting capability, enabled inside Ambient IoT tags, frees IoT from the monetary/replacement burden of batteries or direct power connectivity.

Ambient IoT support is being added to the wireless standards that enable the world’s phones, smart speakers, and access points. Industry analyst ABI Research recently shared a total addressable market for Ambient IoT of over 10 trillion devices at the recent GSMA MWC event in a presentation delivered with Wiliot and Deloitte titled, “6G Ambient IoT Opportunity: Antidote to Supply Chain & Climate Crises?”

Wiliot provides one the first manifestations of Ambient IoT with its IoT Pixels and cloud services that are available today. Wiliot IoT Pixels are a low-cost, small-size, flexible tag the size of a postage stamp, that contains a computer and the technology to harvest energy from radio waves. The simplicity of the tags means they are far less costly than other Bluetooth beacons or Bluetooth Low Energy tags, because they offer the capability of being battery free Bluetooth communicators. Their ability to harvest energy means they can behave like an active Bluetooth Low Energy tag, emitting a data packet without having to be energized by a battery or connected power source. Because they are Bluetooth Low Energy based they can utilize the low cost Bluetooth Low Energy reader infrastructure. Furthermore, the Wiliot software system is cloud based, simplifying set up and integration.

Get the best of both worlds with Wiliot Pixels today.