BFree: Enabling Battery-Free Sensor Prototyping with Python


Building and programming tiny battery-free energy harvesting embedded computer systems is hard for the average maker because of the lack of tools, hard to comprehend programming models, and frequent power failures. With the high ecologic cost of equipping the next trillion embedded devices with batteries, it is critical to equip the makers, hobbyists, and novice embedded systems programmers with easy-to-use tools supporting battery-free energy harvesting application development. This way, makers can create untethered embedded systems that are not plugged into the wall, the desktop, or even a battery, providing numerous new applications and allowing for a more sustainable vision of ubiquitous computing. In this paper, we present BFree, a system that makes it possible for makers, hobbyists, and novice embedded programmers to develop battery-free applications using Python programming language and widely available hobbyist maker platforms. BFree provides energy harvesting hardware and a power failure resilient version of Python, with durable libraries that enable common coding practice and off the shelf sensors. We develop demonstration applications, benchmark BFree against battery-powered approaches, and evaluate our system in a user study. This work enables makers to engage with a future of ubiquitous computing that is useful, long-term, and environmentally responsible.

ACM Interactive Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Technology