A powerful disruption in the Internet of Things

July 16, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Thar Casey of Amber Solutions talks to Nick Flaherty about a disruptive power technology for the Internet of Things
Thar Casey of Amber Solutions talks to Nick Flaherty about a disruptive power technology for the Internet of Things

Thar Casey is passionate about disruption. Whether it’s a digital hearing aid with a six month battery life, a fetal heart monitor, fingerprint sensor, it’s the disruptive nature that’s key.

That is apparent in the technology developed by his latest startup, Amber Solutions. This has developed a power design that can provide native surge protection for every socket and quickly and easily put wireless sensors around the smart home, office and factory.

“We control the sine wave through software,” he said. “There are two core technologies, an AC switching with a novel methodology, and we trip 3000 times faster than a conventional circuit breaker.”

“We don’t use it for conversion, we use it for hold and release. From the AC main line we will give you DC from 0.25W to 15W. Our sweet spot for IoT and home automation is 2 to 5W.

The disruption is to bring one simple board with a range of sensors and a wireless link that also acts as a circuit-breaker. This can be added to any power socket or light switch so that the power can be measured in the Internet of Things. “This means I can build an LED light and smoke detector with a single SKU [part number] that operates from 45V to 600V,” he said.

The technology is currently built in discrete MOSFETs with separate sensors and a microcontroller on a board (as Casey shows above), and the company has signed eight deals with large companies to evaluate the technology. This board is still a fraction the size of a transformer.

What these companies need will determine how the technology is integrated into a single chip. “It doesn’t require new fabs or new technologies, it is in quarter micron, we don’t need something fancy,” he said.

Next: Building Amber's IoT chip

Picture: 
Thar Casey, CEO of Amber Solutions, with the surge protection board

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