ABB Technology Ventures’ investment in Everactive, a technology firm that produces self-powered wireless sensors, reflects a continued commitment by ABB to deliver value for customers through innovation.
From smart homes and self-driving electric cars to sensors in factories, the use of devices connected to the internet has increased exponentially. Internet of Things (IoT) technology has enabled such devices to form a colossal network, in which data is continuously collected and shared to provide insightful information.
With IoT technology rapidly driving our future, the need for batteries is at an all-time high. Sensors need to collect and analyze data round-the-clock and batteries have to ensure uninterrupted power supply. However, the use of batteries also gives rise to several challenges.
Not all IoT devices can be powered by batteries, as they are installed in areas that are not easily accessible. This makes the process of regularly maintaining and replacing batteries more challenging. The power stored in batteries is often limited, requiring replacement after every particular period, and these replacements also translate to higher costs. Additionally, sensors must have long operational lifetimes to support an effective IoT network with reliable data. As more data is aggregated and analyzed, more power needs to be available for better processing. Disposing of a high volume of batteries can negatively impact the environment, and with 41.6 billion anticipated connected IoT devices in 2025,1 this problem is unlikely to go away.
Technology start-up Everactive has unlocked a key solution, developing self-powered, wireless sensors that eliminate the need for batteries. With the help of its underlying integrated circuit and wireless networking expertise, Everactive’s team have created maintenance-free sensors that require minimal power to run. The power these sensors need is harvested from sources such as heat or indoor light, ruling out limited battery life and potential damage to the environment.
The venture capital unit of ABB, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), has invested in Everactive, building on ABB’s more than 130-year legacy of innovation.
“Everactive has the potential to be a category-defining company for truly maintenance-free sensing at a broad scale. This investment reflects ABB’s commitment to create value and expand our presence in the industrial IoT market. By harvesting energy from the environment, self-powered, wireless sensors will provide customers with a sustainable choice at a time of huge interest in renewable, green technologies that are supporting an energy transition,” said Kurt Kaltenegger, Head of Technology at ABB Technology Ventures.
"ABB has been at the forefront of digital transformation underway in the age of Industry 4.0,” said Bob Nunn, CEO, Everactive.
“We're excited to tap that deep expertise as we develop and grow a new category of self-sustaining computing that promises to unlock a tremendous amount of value within ABB's operating markets.”
With the industrial sector as its initial target market, Everactive launched its first product last year – a steam trap monitor, designed to continuously monitor industrial and district energy steam traps. Steam traps, one of the critical components of a steam system, are designed to drain out unwanted condensate. A single failed trap can cost a plant thousands of dollars per year. The steam trap monitor will help businesses perform effective maintenance, and also minimize costly energy waste and eliminate safety concerns.
The firm has also completed beta deployments of other industrial products. This includes a machine health monitor, which monitors vibrations on rotating equipment such as industrial motors and pumps to detect potential failures, and a flare system monitor, which effectively identifies sources of flaring and leaking.
ABB digital leadership
ABB offers a suite of highly effective solutions across several industries through its unified cross-industry digital platform, ABB Ability™. ABB incorporates its deep understanding of its customers and insights to provide best-in-class digital solutions.
Working with companies such as Everactive is part of ABB’s quest to continuously enhance and extend its digital leadership. The shared capabilities enable the rapid creation, extension, deployment, and operation of digital industrial applications.
“Everactive sensing technology can help our customers address some of their most significant challenges at scale, improving safety, being more efficient in competitive marketplaces and meeting aggressive sustainability targets,” said Susan Peterson Sturm, ABB Energy Industries Digital Lead.
It is anticipated ABB will use Everactive’s sensing technology to support customers across different industries and sectors.
About ABB Technology Ventures
ABB Technology Ventures (ATV) is the venture capital unit of ABB. ATV partners with breakthrough industrial technology companies aligned with ABB’s goal to write the future of industrial digitalization and has more than $200 million into start-ups spanning a range of sectors including robotics, drones, industrial IoT, AI/machine learning, 3D printing, cybersecurity and distributed energy. Learn more at abb.com/ventures.
 Estimates from the International Data Corporation.