Partnering opportunity

Zero-power receiver for touch communication and touch sensing


A Swiss school of technology offers a new zero-power receiver for touch communication. Devices that are equipped with the zero-power receiver consume less energy in stand-by mode, offer customized responses to the wake-up signal and better protect data privacy. Applications range from activating door buttons with admission control, read-out of medical implants to simply setting the coffee machine to one’s preferences. Licensing partners for the introduction to the market are sought.

Partner sought

The specific area of activity of the partner: Customized consumer electronics, data communication, intra- and interbody communication. A manufacturer of products like: Smart devices (e.g. wearables for sports), toys, implants or touch secure switches. The tasks to be performed by the partner sought: The partner proposes a business plan based on this invention and takes a license with the purpose of commercializing the invention.


Background: As more and more smart devices enter the market, communication with and between smart devices becomes more relevant and advanced. A typical means of communication between smart devices is radiofrequency (Bluetooth or RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification)). The transmission of radio signals requires energy. For battery powered smart devices, energy is a limited resource and the energy household has to be carefully managed, for example by switching to the stand-by mode when not in use. But even in stand-by mode the devices consume energy as the radio receiver has to monitor continuously the frequency band. Furthermore, Bluetooth or RFID are more vulnerable regarding data privacy. Solution: A Swiss school of technology proposes a receiver that is able to be “always-on” for receiving data/signals. The receiver is able to achieve down to microWatts of power consumption. This energy consumption is so low that it can be powered by the activation signal itself and does not need any extra battery. The receiver harvests the necessary energy over the electric field by capacitive coupling, which is established between receiver electrodes and the transmitter electrodes. The human body functions as an antenna between receiver and transmitter. The transmitter sends first a preamble which charges the internal capacitors of the receiver circuit. The preamble is followed by a payload of data. The stored energy due to the preamble is enough to supply the signal processing by a low power microcontroller. Smart devices that are equipped with the zero-power receiver do not need the conventional stand-by mode (radio receiver on) anymore. The devices can be switched off completely and woken up via a signal from the zero-power receiver, which includes, if desired, data on customized settings or operational commands. Touch communication offers the additional advantage that the signal stays on the skin of the user and is not transmitted into space like Bluetooth or RFID. Thus data protection is improved. Desired cooperation A licensing partner is sought to integrate zero-power receivers into market ready products.. Potential products and applications: Wearable smart devices, touch secure switches (like activating door buttons with admission control in hotels or lockers in offices etc.), intrabody communication between multiple devices (e.g. medical implants: read-out of medical implants etc.). Fig. 1 Prototype of the zero-power receiver Fig. 2 The person wears the transmitter on the wrist. The transmitter sends a “preamble” which charges the circuit. Afterwards the signal can be processed, in this case the signal is a wake-up message for an appliance in stand-by mode.

Advantages and innovations

Zero-power: The receiver does not require any internal energy source. It is powered by the activation signal itself. Data privacy: The data is transmitted via the skin. There is no broadcast signal, which makes tapping of data more difficult. Light weight: The zero-power receiver is a light weight component, which can easily be added to any smart device – especially wearables, also medical implants etc. Note: Nothing comparable is available on the market.

Development stage

Prototype available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted

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