Sensing, Computing, and Communications for Energy Harvesting IoTs: A Survey


With the growing number of deployments of Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure for a wide variety of applications, the battery maintenance has become a major limitation for the sustainability of such infrastructure. To overcome this problem, energy harvesting offers a viable alternative to autonomously power IoT devices, resulting in a number of battery-less energy harvesting IoTs (or EH-IoTs) appearing in the market in recent years. Standards activities are also underway, which involve wireless protocol design suitable for EH-IoTs as well as testing procedures for various energy harvesting methods. Despite the early commercial and standards activities, IoT sensing, computing and communications under unpredictable power supply still face significant research challenges. This paper systematically surveys recent advances in EH-IoTs from several perspectives. First, it reviews the recent commercial developments for EH-IoT in terms of both products and services, followed by initial standards activities in this space. Then it surveys methods that enable the use of energy harvesting hardware as a proxy for conventional sensors to detect contexts in energy efficient manner. Next it reviews the advancements in efficient checkpointing and timekeeping for intermittently powered IoT devices. We also survey recent research in novel wireless communication techniques for EH-IoTs, such as the applications of reinforcement learning to optimize power allocations on-the-fly under unpredictable energy productions, and packet-less IoT communications and backscatter communication techniques for energy impoverished environments. The paper is concluded with a discussion of future research directions.


Computer Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Second Research Center/Lab

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Energy harvesting; energy harvesting communications; intermittent computing; Internet of Things; sensing

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2020