Commercial bathrooms are full of battery-operated devices: touchless faucets, flush valves, and soap dispensers, just to name a few.
These touch-free devices are attractive for sanitary reasons. They run on batteries because routing power cables in public bathrooms is a complex undertaking. It’s a water-rich environment and electricity does not mix well with water. When facility managers retrofit existing bathrooms with battery-operated devices, they use batteries to avoid having to rip up and re-tile the walls to run the cables.
Vendors for these battery-operated devices worked hard to optimize for long battery life. In an airport with thousands of devices, longer battery life means less maintenance. Less maintenance means more savings both in hours as well as in battery costs.
But today, with facility management systems, a faucet is not only a faucet. It is also a sensor. Faucets want to report how often they were used. Soap dispensers report how much soap they dispensed. Facility managers can view how well these devices are doing without visiting each bathroom. This allows for timely service and improved customer experience.
The problem with turning faucets into IoT devices is power consumption. IoT requires more frequent reporting. It requires communication channels that did not exist before in the faucet. More frequent reporting means more power. More power for battery-operated devices means more frequent replacements. We run into a conflict between functionality and power consumption.
Wireless power is the solution. It delivers plenty of power to the power-hungry devices and can do so without routing wires. It is the perfect solution to the next wave of innovation in public bathrooms.