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Date: 26-03-17

Smart and connected IoT sensors for your IoT edge design

Human beings experience the external environment in many ways. Vision, hearing, sense of touch (surface sensation), and senses of taste and smell (chemical sensation) - all provide sensory information about one’s surroundings. The sensed information reaches the brain through the peripheral nervous system. The brain, being the final decision maker, decides how to respond to a given condition or experience. The brain often utilizes several sources of sensory input to validate an event and compensate for a lack of ‘sufficient and complete’ information to make a decision.

The Digital Nervous System comprises of Cameras and Microphones for Eyes and Ears, GPS Sensors for Location Data and Temperature to Pressure Changes measured using Sensory Organs.

Sensor technology advancements have happened upto such an extent to rightly imitate the ultimate sensing machine .. the human being. The sensor technology, using sensor fusion, leverages a microcontroller (the brain) to fuse the individual data collected from multiple sensors to result in an accurate and reliable form. Sensor fusion creates a situation in which the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts as well as enables context awareness.

Sensors, devices and people connected to each other and to enable a form of free-flowing conversation between man and machine, hardware and software is the “Internet of Things”. IoT Sensors provide characteristic data of physical objects in the form of a signal that offers devices to communicate over the internet.

The IoT sensors are based on MEMS(Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology. The sensor output in the digital form can be directly interfaced with the microcontroller using SPI. If the sensor output signal is of analog form, analog to digital converters (ADC) or sigma delta modulators can be used to interface them with the MCU.

Smart Sensors are combined with wired and wireless communication capabilities. Wired connectivity offers reliability, privacy and power delivery over the same wires. Nowadays, by improving with even better reliability, channel security, long range, ultra low power consumption, ease of use, and importantly low cost, the IoT sensors connected with wireless technologies are the catalyst in majority of the connected solutions.

As per our market analysis, the Smart Sensor market may reach near US $40 billion by the year 2022.

 

Types of IoT Sensors and their Applications:

Sensors find their valuable application in smart mobiles, automotive systems, industrial control, healthcare, life sciences, oil exploration, monitoring climate, etc., Smart sensors are also used in developing IoT applications for manufacturing as they help modernize and streamline analytics and connectivity. They can identify items, locate them and determine their environmental conditions and thereby enable process and quality management in supply chain and manufacturing.

 

 

Sensor Type

 

Detection / Sensing

 

Application

 

Examples

Humidity / Moisture

Amount of Water Vapor in the air or a mass

Data Centers, Labs, Food Industry, Industry Machine and IT Equipment monitoring

Hygrometer, Humistor, Soil Moisture Sensor

Pressure

Pressure of Gas or Liquid (also speed and altitude)

GPS Navigation, Touch Screen Navigation, Consumer Electronics

Barometer, Bourdon Gauge, Piezometer

Temperature

Heat, Cold

Monitor Health, Smart Home, Life Sciences

Thermometer, Calorimeter,

Temperature Gauge

Proximity

Motion / Position (Linear, Angular, Multi-axis), Presence

Consumer Electronics, Retail Industry, Parking

Potentiometer, Inclinometer

Touch

Capacitive, Resistive

Sliders, Wheels, Touch Buttons, Liquid Level Sensing

HMI Designs

Accelerometer

Tilt, Vibration, Linear Acceleration

Pedometer, Levelling, Vibration Alert, Security Safety

Pedometers, Antitheft Devices and Levelling

Gyroscope

Angular Velocity

Consumer and Home Automation

3D Mouse, 3D Games

Optical / Light

Light (Ambient, IR, UV)

Digital Camera, Oil Refineries, Mining, Chemical Plants, Aerospace,

Building Automation

Infrared Sensor, Photodetector, Flame Detector

Image

Gesture Recognition

Augmented-reality Systems, Security

Camera, IRIS Scanners, Drones

Acoustic

Sound Levels

Acoustic Sensor Network (ASN)

Microphone, Geophone, Hydrophone

Flow

Rate(Volume) of Fluid / Air Flow, Mass, Velocity

Smart Home

Anemometer, Mass Flow Sensor, Water Meter

Inertial

Inertia - Virtual / Augmented Reality

Healthcare, Life Science, Warehouse Management, Measurement and Testing

Antitheft Systems, Inertial Navigation Appliances, Robotics, Mobile Terminals

Occupancy and Motion Sensing

Presence of People, Animals. Senses Body’s Action

Security, Smart Home, Smart City

Electric Eye, RADAR, Door Sensor

Environment Monitoring or Chemical

Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Dust, Gas

Healthcare, Life Sciences

Breathalyzer, Olfactometer, Smoke Detector

Biosensors

Organisms, Tissues, Cells, Enzymes, Antibodies, Nucleic Acids, Blood, Urine, Saliva, Skin

Healthcare, Life Sciences, Coal Mining Industry

Canary in a cage, Pulse Oximetry, ECG, Test Strips, Smart Shirts

 

Other Smart Sensors include radar sensors, electrical conductivity sensors, magnetic field sensors, UV index sensors, Ultrasonic sensors, and oxidation reduction potential (ORP) sensors.

 

Selection of IoT Sensors:

The fundamental functions that any sensor should perform are: sensing the required physical/environmental conditions, sensed data transmission and being energised with least leakages. Accuracy, Noise, Range, Repeatability, Resolution, and Selectivity could also impact the reliability of the data received.

 

The primary factors that drive the deployment of the sensor technology depends upon price, security, capability and size, and so is the sensor development becoming Smarter, Smaller and Cheaper.

 

IoT Sensors - Top Manufacturers:

Sensor Type

Manufacturer 1

Manufacturer 2

Manufacturer 3

Humidity / Moisture

Honeywell

Silicon Labs

Sensirion

 

Pressure

Honeywell

SSI Technologies

TE Connectivity

 

Temperature

TI

Microchip

Analog Devices

Proximity

Omron

Crouzet

Panasonic

Touch

Microchip

Atmel

Semtech

Accelerometer

Analog Devices

STMicroelectronics

TE Connectivity

Gyroscope

Analog Devices

STMicroelectronics

InvenSense

Optical / Light

AMS-AG

Intersil,

Broadcomm

Image

ON Semiconductor

OmniVision Technologies

ams

Flow

SMC Corporation

Honeywell

GEMS Sensors

Inertial

STMicroelectronics

Bosch Sensortec

Analog Devices

Occupancy and Motion Sensing

Honeywell

Analog Devices

Panasonic

Environment Monitoring or Chemical

Amphenol

Microchip

Honeywell

Biosensors

Maxim Integrated

Plessey Semiconductors

Analog Devices

 

Connected sensors can also be classified based on Technology into:

a. MEMS-based smart sensors

b. CMOS-based smart sensors

c. Other Technologies (ASIC, integrated smart sensors, optical spectroscopy, microsystem technology (MST), and IC-compatible 3D micro-structuring)
 

Few 100s of smart sensors are used in cars to control engine and body, infotainment, etc., Likewise, on a modern airliner, few 1000s of sensors help the aircraft to sense: fuel quality and quantity, flight altitude and angle of attack, ice detection, liquid level, pilot probes, air temperature, etc., Days are not far away... even the human body would have half a dozen sensors wearable on body, wrist, chest, ear, etc., monitoring health, and providing alerts to the necessary stakeholders.

Note: We advise you to cross-check the data with the original source.
 

This article is a continuation of series of articles on IoT sourcing eco. Below are the titles of other two articles:

The hardware and software components eco of IoT – Internet of Things

A short guide on IoT Microcontroller chip selection

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