Roke Manor Research Ltd (Roke) has developed a self-charging miniaturised device which generates a radio signal that can be tracked up to an estimated 200 kilometres away. The device, AGITATE, is currently the size of a five pence piece. A small dielectric is charged, and when shaken the tag generates a radio signal that can be tracked through walls and up to 20 kilometres in built-up areas, with an estimated range of 200 kilometres in free space.
The device doesn’t need a battery as shaking it converts mechanical energy into radio pulses, rather like a dynamo that uses mechanical energy to power bicycle lights.
Roke’s research and design team said that the device could be produced for a few pence per unit and would have a broad range of tracking applications. Potential uses could include a low cost method of monitoring and regulating the use of lifejackets, with built in man-overboard capability; remote sensing for flood monitoring and alerts; in the industrial sector for remote sensing of motion and vibration fault detection in harsh environments; in the retail sector as security tags on high-value goods or in the healthcare sector for keeping track of patients, such as those suffering from dementia.
The research and development team has already completed UK trials across 26 kilometres of variable terrain. Further Roke investment is focussed on reducing AGITATE’s footprint and increasing RF output power even further.
According to Peter Lockhart, Future Technology Manager for Roke: “As with many of the best inventions, AGITATE was developed by accident. But thanks to their highly inventive and creative minds, they recognised a potential application and have brought that to fruition, developing a simple yet highly usable technology.”