Low-Cost Batteryless / Wireless Controls Powered by NASA Technology

March 26, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

The Space Foundation has announced its newest Space Certification Partner, PulseSwitch Systems, LC, of Norfolk, Virginia., which is recognized for its licensed product, a batteryless, wireless remote switch marketed under the name Lightning Switch®. The switch uses NASA-developed Thunder® technology to self-power a radio frequency transmitter, sending a unique ID-encoded signal to a Lightning® receiver. It provides portable, remote control of electrical loads at distances of up to 100 feet, or at unlimited range with optional repeaters.

Thunder, which is the highly-rugged and low-cost piezoelectric element that generates electric power, is a breakthrough technology from NASA space research and it is sold separately as a component for integration into OEM systems, in addition to being used in the Lightning Switch. In 2007, Lightning Switch was named one of NASA's top 20 spinoff technologies of the past five years. Lightning Switch is a winner of the International NOVA Award for innovation in construction technology, and the international SPIE Smart Structures Product Implementation Award. Lightning Switch is also featured in the Department of Housing and Urban Developments PATH Concept Homes. The piezo elements in the Lightning Switch are manufactured and sold under license from NASA.

“Lightning Switch was the first commercial application of this class of flextensional actuators and generators,” commented PulseSwitch CEO Brad Face. “Lightning Switch systems have been installed in more than 12,000 buildings and we’ve never had a single failure of the piezo element. In the last couple of years, despite the economic downturn, the OEM interest in using these piezo devices has increased dramatically and the big reason is price. Our customers tell us Thunder and Lightning save them 50% to 85%. New products using these devices should start appearing on the market in the near future.”

“Lightning Switch is another outstanding example of the practical benefits of space exploration and technology,” said Space Foundation Director – Space Awareness Program Kevin Cook. “Many are life-saving; many more are life-improving and offer better efficiency, safety and convenience here on Earth.”

Lightning® components are used in the PulseStar® Lighting System, which is a unique, highly efficient and flexible lighting system that uses a much smaller percentage of the electricity used by older technologies. PulseStar saves the most in places traditionally served by high-intensity discharge lamps, such as the metal halides and T12 fluorescents used in warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, retail space, gymnasiums, parking garages and convention centers.