The U.S. Department of Energy invested in PARC as part of a wider $19 million investment to improve efficiency in homes, offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants and stores across America.
As decided by the Building Technologies Office, which sits within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, PARC – a Xerox company – will develop new, low-cost, sticky sensors for facilities management.
The aim is to create an Internet of Things (IoT) technology that can be easily deployed throughout a building to monitor and provide more accurate data from the environment, such as air quality, temperature and humidity.
The project is part of a total of 18 that are being funded by the DOE Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies, encompassing sensors and controls, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and related technologies, windows, building envelopes (the physical elements, such as doors and walls, separating a building’s interior from its exterior) and energy modelling.
PARC peel-and-stick technology
PARC has significant expertize in developing hybrid electronics, and one area in particular where it has noticed challenges in distributed sensing is power.
The company admits that its own low-cost sensors, which are powered by radio-frequency energy instead of batteries, can be ineffective inside of buildings where they have limited life or access to light.
Instead, it suggests these innovative peel-and-stick sensors provide simple and affordable installation advantages, as they can be applied throughout a facility and easily replaced or moved when necessary to allow for a deeper and more accurate understanding of building environment than what is currently available.
Supposedly, the low-cost, flexible form factor, and simple installation are ideal for a variety of applications including building efficiency, air quality, smart cities, industrial and residential safety, and wearables.
Additionally, PARC claims that the sensors are auto-locating, facilitating commissioning, and enabling additional capabilities, such as automatic wall mapping, which removes the common any economic barriers to implementation by reducing the commissioning effort required.
Making sense of IoT
David Schwartz, project lead and manager of energy devices and systems at PARC, indicated that the peel-and-stick sensor would aid widespread IoT deployment, as distributed, networked sensing and data collection is the basis of IoT.
“Distributed sensing enables richer knowledge of any environment, detecting air quality, temperature, humidity, occupancy, and more,” he said.
“Sensors need to be low-cost, easily deployed, require little or no maintenance, and be able to store enough energy to do their job. PARC’s flexible, printed and hybrid electronics enable the unique peel-and-stick form factor, provide affordable, plug-and-play installation, and allow for remote radio frequency power delivery.”