Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Smartwatch powered purely by sunlight and body heat

Steve Rogerson
February 19, 2019

A smartwatch and fitness tracker from California company Matrix Industries is powered purely from sunlight and body heat using technology from Transsip and U-Blox.
The PowerWatch 2 GNSS smartwatch is said to be the first location tracking watch that never needs charging.
California-based Transsip specialises in power integrity and helped Matrix develop the GPS smartwatch that uses the low power U-Blox Zoe-M8B GNSS receiver to track position, in addition to calories burned, activity level and sleep, making it suitable for runners, hikers and swimmers. The Transsip Pi technology ensures energy harvested is used at high efficiency and provides crystal clean power to improve performance.
The PowerWatch 2 does away with cables and external batteries by continually topping up its battery using thermoelectric energy generated from body heat as well as solar energy. The watch connects to smartphones and displays notifications and tracking activities. These can be visualised using dedicated iOS and Android apps, as well as with popular third party health and fitness platforms.

Swiss company U-Blox’s GNSS receiver module consumes as low as 12mW. The system-in-package (SiP) measures 4.5 by 4.5 by 1.0mm and helps achieve the watch’s comparatively low 16mm thickness. Concurrent reception of up to three GNSS constellations means it delivers high accuracy positioning in difficult situations such as urban or dense forest environments and when swimming.
Satellite based positioning is typically the most power-hungry process on a sports watch. Providing efficient conversion of harvested energy into a very quiet supply of DC power, Transsip Pi enhances the ability of the GNSS receiver module incorporating U-Blox Super-E technology to strike a balance between power and performance.
“We put a lot of effort into tailoring the Zoe-M8B to the needs of small battery powered applications,” said Florian Bousquet, principal product manager at U-Blox. “We couldn’t have wished for a better product to showcase our Zoe-M8B’s potential for wearables than the PowerWatch 2.”
Working on a tight power budget, the watch supports thirty minutes of continuous GNSS tracking per day, with unused time accumulating in the watch’s battery pack, for example powering two hours of location tracking every four days.
“TransSiP PI makes it possible to deliver high performance and high efficiency simultaneously by reducing system noise, eliminating time spent re-acquiring data, and minimising the need for additional processing,” said Douglas Tham, CTO of Matrix Industries. “This means power savings across-the-board and enables applications which can be powered solely by energy harvesting.”
And Akram Boukai, CEO and co-founder of Matrix Industries, added: “Not only were size, cost and power constrained in developing the PowerWatch 2, we also had to make sure that it met the high performance demands that athletes expect. The combination of Transsip PI and the Zoe-M8B solved all of these pain points for us, enabling the watch to quickly lock in on its position even in weak signal environments.”
Backers of the project on Indiegogo are expected to receive their orders in June 2019.
An Irvine, California, start-up, Transsip has a growing portfolio of technologies supporting the power integrity needs of remote, mobile and wearable low power systems and devices.