Project: SMART RAdio Networks for Greater Energy management

There is a growing need for smart energy-efficient homes, offices and industrial plants, and this need is increasingly being supported by legislation. Hence there is a growing market for technologies to enable this, through the deployment of smart metering as well as intelligent heating, ventilation, lighting, and monitoring control systems. To address this market, a new class of low-power wireless protocols has been developed for the automation and control of the above systems._x000D_These wireless protocols require electronic devices which include radio-frequency electronic components, micro-controllers, on-chip sensors and sensor interfaces. In order to address the price point of consumer and industrial markets, this needs to be done on a single integrated circuit, and there will be a significant increase in demand for semiconductor devices employed in wireless energy-management systems to operate from battery or energy-harvesting sources._x000D_The aim of the project is to develop a semiconductor radio for use in wireless energy management, based on a revolutionary new architecture, designed specifically for long range and low-power operation. Semiconductor radios for this standard are required to both transmit and receive radio signals. Such devices are known as radio transceivers. To date, wireless radio communications protocols have defined standards which cause transceivers to consume many times more power whilst transmitting than receiving. However, low-power wireless protocols have strict limits in terms of transmitted power. Hence, for the first time, a low-power wireless protocol has caused transceivers to consume more power whilst receiving than transmitting. The result of this is that existing low-power radio transceivers have very limited range. The limit of range is the key technical factor limiting adoption of this technology. Hence receiver sensitivity is the CO focus of this project, as this is where architectural decisions can have the greatest impact on range and power consumption._x000D_A more sensitive receiver is one which is able to recover data reliably from a weaker received signal. Sensitivity is limited by two significant factors. The first of these is the noise generated in the receiver circuits. The other is the amount of noise that can be tolerated when recovering data from the received signal in a circuit known as a demodulator. By reducing the generated noise in the receiver and/or improving the noise tolerance of the demodulator, a transceiver will consume less power whilst still providing a reliable data link._x000D_Existing receiver topologies use one of two demodulation schemes, coherent or non-coherent. Coherent schemes deliver excellent noise tolerance, at the expense of high power consumption. Non-coherent schemes, however, trade poor noise tolerance in return for low power consumption. Both coherent and non-coherent schemes therefore demonstrate certain significant disadvantages due to fundamental limits of the receiver demodulation scheme._x000D_The proposed architecture does not suffer from this enforced trade-off, offering excellent sensitivity and low power consumption. The participants expect this demodulator scheme to deliver performance close to the theoretical limit of noise tolerance, or over three times better than that of any existing low-power architecture._x000D_The benefit of this technology, when applied to low-power wireless protocols, will be a significant increase in range and a reduction in power consumption. In the domestic setting, this increase in range will allow for whole-house coverage for such radios, without the need for external power amplification. The corresponding saving in terms of lower system cost and reduced power consumption will allow for more battery and energy-harvesting powered applications such as water meters, gas meters and temperature monitoring._x000D_The risk with the proposed topology is that the receiver circuits and this new demodulator are more complex in design than those of existing architectures. In particular, the demodulator is required to perform complex digital signal processing. In order to overcome this, the radio implementation uses innovative techniques whose manufacturability must be assessed._x000D_The project deliverables will be a prototype semiconductor radio device based on this innovative radio architecture, together with a test methodology, a comprehensive reliability assessment and patent applications for the implementation of the architecture. The business outcome will be a relationship between the participants, capable of supplying a product platform of the highest quality to multiple industries under the most stringent quality standards.

Acronym SMARTRANGE (Reference Number: 7544)
Duration 01/10/2012 - 15/11/2014
Project Topic The aim of the project is to develop a prototype radio device for use in smart meters and other energy management systems, designed specifically to overcome the range against power consumption problem for low-power wireless protocols, thus allowing whole-house coverage.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 Cascoda Limited Coordinator United Kingdom
2 RoodMicrotec N.V. Partner Netherlands