SolarPrint Makes Building Sensors Self-Sufficient

DUBLIN, Ireland — A Dublin-based photovoltaic tech company has launched a new solar energy technology that allows electronics to gather power from any light sources.

SolarPrint is aiming its new dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology for use in wireless sensors in buildings, but says it could be expanded for use in products like keyboards and cell phones.

"Wireless sensors seemed like the killer app," SolarPrint co-founder and director Roy Hogan said about the company's decision on what products to focus on initially.

Wireless sensors can be used to monitor temperature, lighting, air quality and other factors inside buildings. Hogan noted they consume little power and the market for them has been growing.

SolarPrint's printable DSSC technology captures and stores energy from light sources, most importantly, for the company's intents, from ambient and diffused light indoors. Adding solar cells to wireless sensors essentially makes them self-sufficient electronics that need little maintenance. 

Hogan said most of SolarPrint's customers have been electronics makers that are using the technology to make final products or demonstration devices. "We're getting traction in all areas," he said.

SolarPrint, founded in 2008, is expecting to grab onto the momentum of companies switching to wireless sensors, particularly during retrofits and upgrades since the sensors don't require as much labor or cost as putting in new wiring. Solar-powered sensors, therefore, are expected to be even more appealing since they cut out the use of batteries as well.

Hogan said SolarPrint's technology could be scaled up to be used in building system control panels, wireless light switches, security systems, wireless keyboards and mice, mobile phones or even larger applications like electric vehicles, street lights and electronic signs.

Wireless thermometer - CC license by .Larry Page (Flickr)