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Communications of the ACM


A Battery-Free Internet of Things

battery-less sensors, illustration

Credit: SciTech Daily

When NVIDIA purchased mobile-chip designer Arm Holdings from SoftBank last year, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang made the bold prediction that in the years ahead, there will be trillions of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Regardless of whether that holds true, it is safe to say the growth of IoT devices is exploding. All those devices will require power sources, and the way Josiah Hester sees it, that's problematic for the environment and society.

"When I see the 'trillion' number, I see a trillion dead batteries, basically," says Hester, an assistant professor of computer engineering at Northwestern University. "There's piles of batteries in landfills in China and elsewhere sitting there unrecycled; or they're put in furnaces and melted down, which is not a carbon-neutral event."


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