Easy Engineerig: How was 2020 in terms of turnover?

NOWI: Nowi is a semiconductor company focusing on energy harvesting technology and chipset design. We are currently in our commercialization phase and that entails multiple projects in different markets running concurrently. The turnover goals for 2020 were met and we have more than expected chipset sales in the pipeline. The pandemic affected trade shows and industry events thereby hindering our ability to network with new clients in those events. However, Nowi has been very resilient and found alternative means of engaging with potential customers and partners. In spite of extremely challenging times, the past year has exceeded our expectations in terms of sales and turnover.

E.E: What new products / services have been launched this year?

NOWI: After some rounds of beta testing and pilot projects with selected customers, Nowi officially launched NH2D0245, our first energy harvesting chipset for low power applications. The chipset differentiates itself from various competitors in the market in multiple key aspects. NH2 has the smallest PCB footprint and is ~10 times smaller than comparable products. Owing to its small size and minimum external components, it has the lowest BOM cost among any energy harvesting chipsets.

Another major advantage of the NH2 is its industry leading MPPT capability. MPPT or Maximum Power Point Tracking is a crucial feature in fast changing environments where the ambient energy source fluctuates very frequently. For example, a solar smart band on a runner’s wrist changes its position very quickly due to the movement of the arm. NH2’s fast MPPT capability can ensure the highest average efficiency while harvesting energy from the ever changing relative position between the sun and the solar panel of the smart band. More information about the NH2 is available on our website.

Along with our PMIC, Nowi also provides necessary services to help our customers integrate energy harvesting technology into the end product. We work with our clients to jointly select components like PV panels and storage units based on the project. We also provide engineering and validation support for the POCs and production units.

E.E: What feedback did these product / service launches have?

NOWI: The feedback from customers about the NH2 has been extremely positive. We have been working with some of the largest OEMs in the Electronic Shelf Label and TV Remote Control market. They are particularly impressed by the low BOM cost due to the strong price competitiveness in this industry. There is also a lot of interest from the wearables industry due to our ultra fast MPPT function. We are currently working on multiple smart wearable projects. This is a relatively new technology and OEMs often do not have the necessary engineering expertise to integrate energy harvesting technology into their products. Nowi’s service based approach has been highly appreciated as we work closely with our clients and support them in every step.

E.E: What was the most important project this year?

NOWI: Many of our commercial projects are under strict NDA’s, so we cannot reveal too much detail. However, one of our most important projects was in the IoT space for industrial applications. The customer is a major technology provider in the oil & gas industry, their goal is to have real time gas pipeline monitoring without any human intervention (battery replacement). The project involves working with a new network topology as well as novel sensor systems. The Nowi team worked closely with the client in every step from project brief to sensor development.

E.E: How has the customer profile changed lately?

NOWI: The customer profile has changed from a single product sale model to a longer term service sale relationship model. Energy harvesting integration for low power applications is relatively new; OEMs are looking for engineering support to get their products off the ground and put them to market.

Due to an uncertain nature of future for many businesses caused by the pandemic, we have also noticed that customers are often reluctant to immediately enter into a purchase agreement and it is taking longer than usual to persuade companies to explore novel opportunities. At the same time, new technologies are gaining ground and often the ‘not market leader’ is more enthusiastic about implementing energy harvesting solutions to gain a competitive advantage.

E.E: What products / solutions have customers been looking for this year?

NOWI: Energy harvesting technology for low power applications has been available for a long time but it was not commercialized until very recently. Companies working on large scale IoT projects have clearly identified the need for energy harvesting to reduce long term operational costs and have a viable business case.

This has led to OEMs looking for energy harvesting solutions which are low cost, easy to implement and easy to maintain. Nowi’s chipset provides all of these benefits and OEMs have been highly appreciative of our engineering support. They liked working with us because of our end-to-end integration support not only with the NH2 PMIC but also with support components like PV panels, piezo units and storage devices from our partners. More information on our recent projects can be found:

E.E: Given the current context, was there a need to diversify the portfolio of services / products?

NOWI: The pandemic did not particularly affect our product portfolio or product roadmap. However, we did reassess our process to product sale. We focused more on providing support and curating our services to a specific client instead of a blanket approach for all customers of similar kind.

We revisited and slightly adjusted our product roadmap timeline to take into account the effect of the pandemic as well as new challenges like coordinating effectively with our colleagues while working remotely.

E.E: A short year-end message for collaborators.

NOWI: Nowi is committed to developing new technologies which can smartly connect the physical world with the digital world. We want to be at the forefront of a smart connected and sustainable society. The recent pandemic has affected businesses like never before and has made us more aware of how fragile systems are. We need to work together in order to enable a more robust, resilient and sustainable future. This means responsibly using the finite number of natural resources and maximizing their lifespan. Nowi welcomes renewed enthusiasm and collaboration from leading companies to enable this very future.