A fox or a squirrel, which one is stronger? Most people will answer “the fox”, because it is a larger, more powerful animal. But if you define the question more precisely, the answer is different: “A fox or a squirrel, who is better placed to live through live through cold, harsh winters?” The answer is “the squirrel”. A squirrel hibernates during the darkest and coldest periods and is able to survive by changing its metabolism. The fox, in contrast requires constant supply of food and water and is the lesser of the two animals relative to living through the winter.

A remarkable analogy exists with low-power wireless sensor applications. Many solutions solve the low-power in a traditional fashion: they reduce power by decreasing the current consumption during operation. However, this “traditional” way of reaching low power in not sufficient to answer the needs of wireless sensor applications. They require a different way to optimize for low power. In a way, many current solutions for wireless sensor applications have a “fox-based” design, whereas a real answer to the application needs requires out-of-box thinking to come up with the hibernation capabilities of the squirrel.