Solar Powered Wireless Tested in Japan

Architects and Transit agencies alike are increasingly taking advantage of solar photovoltaic technology as a cost-effective means for powering remote lighting systems along pathways or bus-stops that exist independent from the electric grid. Likewise, the same benefits of grid-free power could soon become a part of powering public outdoor wireless internet-access “hotspots” which are becoming increasingly popular in this high-speed digital age.

Oki Electric Industry is conducting an experiment in Kobe, Japan for free mobility assistance service by establishing ZigBee, a solar photovoltaic (PV) network that enables users to receive necessary information anytime, from anywhere by installing small wireless sensors and data transmitters. This testing is conducted as part of the pre-demo experiment of the Free Mobility Assistance Project, hosted by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. “In order for wireless systems like ZigBee to become practical-use, it is essential to repeat demo-experiments in various situations as they change its features depending on the surrounding environment,” said Harushige Sugimoto, Chief Technology Officer at Oki Electric. “Based on the experiment results, Oki will identify ZigBee characteristics and will work on establishing a ZigBee based ubiquitous sensor network that enables free mobility assistance services.” ZigBee is a technology expected to popularize free mobility assistance service as fixed nodes can be operated on solar power and can be set anywhere without wires. Oki developed a ZigBee wireless node for the demo, which is used in this experiment as fixed nodes and mobile nodes to identify characteristics of the system’s radio transmission abilities, to validate power consumption using solar power and to estimate mobile node locations. Oki expects to obtain a wide array of information as the experiment will take place in diverse environments including outdoor intersections, closed underground malls, places with many people moving around, and environments with car traffic. Data will be measured with mobile nodes at intersections and pathways by setting fixed nodes for beacons and solar batteries on five of the streetlights.
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