Ambient temperature changes, which take place natively in the environment, could power Internet of Things (IoT) sensors indefinitely, say researchers.\nThe remarkable concept, which the inventors at the\u00a0Massachusetts Institute of Technology\u00a0(MIT) call thermal resonating, is highly flexible \u2014\u00a0unlike previous scientific attempts at developing similar things.\nIt essentially harvests electricity out of thin air, the group claims. No batteries or solar panel-requiring sunlight is needed.\nAround 1.3 milliwatts of power have been created in experiments, writes David L. Chandler in an MIT News article about the discovery. That micro-level power supply could be enough to run some communications gear, too, the researchers say.\nIt\u2019s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing.\u201d - Michael Strano, MIT professor\n\u201cThese [temperature fluctuation frequencies] are an untapped source of energy,\u201d Michael Strano says in the article. He is an MIT professor and has been involved in the invention. \u201cIt\u2019s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing.\u201d\nGetting power from night-and-day temperature fluctuations\nThe group created the experimental power supply from an 18-degree Fahrenheit temperature change, mimicking the night-and-day changes found many places in the world.\nImportantly, it\u2019s the real-world tunability, such as that which could be harnessed by consistent diurnal (night-and-day) temperature changes, that could make this project have legs for IoT.\nBasic thermoelectic devices, which generate power when one side of a conductor is a different temperature than a joined other side, have been around for a while. It\u2019s called the Seebeck effect and was invented in 1787. The concept works through hot and cold sides of coupled, but dissimilar, metals trying to get to equilibrium.\nIn 2014, I wrote about how waste heat from data centers could be converted to electricity using the Seebeck effect and explained some of the limitations in the tech overall: it\u2019s hard to keep the hot bit hot and cold bit cold, being one.\nHowever, this MIT system wouldn\u2019t need heat or cooling sources \u2014 it just harnesses ambient air over time. Thus, theoretically, one could implement it and forget it.\n\u201cThe new system is the first that can be tuned to respond to specific periods of temperature variations, such as the diurnal cycle,\u201d the MIT researchers say. \u201cIt could enable continuous, years-long operation of remote sensing systems.\u201d\nThe group achieve their efficiencies over the traditional Seebeck effect and another concept called pyroelectricity, through the use of cutting-edge materials, including taking advantage of graphene for quick conduction.\nEnergy for IoT\nEnergy harvesting development will become increasingly exciting as the IoT takes hold. Just how does one power these potentially billions of devices \u2014 many of which will be off-grid in remote and\/or in hard-to-access spots? Last month, I wrote about a form of ultrasonic signaling that could wake up sensors as they were needed. That saves traditional power and may be one option.\nSolar photovoltaic is another power choice, but as with wind power, the panels require certain environmental thresholds to work. The slabs won\u2019t work at night, obviously. With wind power, turbines don\u2019t function when the wind slacks off.\nSimple, diurnal temperature variations that always occur may turn out to be a more consistent power source.\n\u201cIt is unaffected by short-term changes in cloud cover, wind conditions, or other environmental conditions, and [it] can be located anywhere,\u201d the scientists say.