MicroPower Ultra-Low Power Wireless/Solar Video Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 05, 2010

MicroPower Technologies is a startup aimed at eliminating power wiring for wireless video surveillance cameras through radical reduction of power consumption for the wireless camera. Their first two planned product offerings include (1) a small form factor solar wireless camera that  integrates solar panels and batteries into an outdoor fix camera housing and (2) a wearable camera, completely battery operated for short term operation. For the solar wireless camera, they anticipate pricing of $1500 each and $1600 for the base station (supporting up to a maximum of 16 cameras).They project maximum throughput of 35-40 Mb/s and 1 mile transmission line of site using moderately high gain antennas.

The key enabling technology is to reduce the total power consumption of the camera/wireless transmistter. As the video below shows, they report power consumption of a few hundred milliWatts compared to traditional systems of 3 - 5 Watts. 

In their next generation version, they project reducing power consumption to a few dozen milliWatts.

The concept is intriguing as limitations in outdoor deployments and power supply are a key limitation in today's video surveillance systems. Most outdoor camera deployments are restricted to spots where power can be readily accessed (such as light poles or roofs of buildings). Sometimes this provides sub-optimal surveillance coverage. Other times it requires complicated permitting to tap into local power. While solar is possible with today's cameras, it often requires fairly large batteries and sizable/visible solar panels. If MicroPower can meet its objectives, it could significantly reduce the cost, complexity and overtness of traditional solar powered wireless cameras.

On the other hand, MicroPower Technologies will need to prove that no significant tradeoffs or flaws remain in the final implementation. Key elements to verify include:

  • Power consumption is truly as low as claimed
  • Wireless range and bandwidth availability is not significantly reduced compared to traditional offerings
  • Video quality is not compromised
  • Small solar panel array and battery size are sufficient
  • Pricing points are able to be achieved in production

MicroPower projects general release of products in mid-2010. They announced an angel investment in October 2008 and are currently considering further investment and/or OEM partners.

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