Sensors

Carolyn Mathas
Editor
This site that gives a sense of what’s happening in the world of sensor technology and helps designers to stay current with new trends, good technological ideas, novel materials, and products. Optimum and robust design ideas combined with innovative techniques showing how-to-interface and condition sensor outputs are some of the areas explored. Mathematical aspects of sensor accuracy, temperature, and linearization tracking and correction are some of the many and varied areas to be explored.

MEMS gyroscope precision inertial sensing in harsh, high temperature environments

Despite recent progress in high precision data acquisition and processing, there are still unmet needs for sensors that can operate at temperatures up to 175°C, particularly in the easy to use form factor provided by MEMS. Read More...

Minimize measurement errors in RTD circuits

Use these circuits to add an RTD temperature sensor in front of a digitizer and minimize errors through hardware and software. Read More...

Accsensorizing the world securely and scalably: Q&A with Electric Imp’s Hugo Fiennes

CEO Hugo Fiennes explains how Electric Imp got on the front lines of industrial IoT implementation, and what designers need to look for in an IoT sensor-to-cloud connection. Read More...

1000 sensors, one line, using optical fiber

Optical fibers can act as sensors all along their length, with the right illumination and signal processing. Read More...

Teardown: Misfit Shine 2 and the art of power management

At DesignCon 2016, the Misfit Shine 2 Fitness + Sleep monitor went under the knife, exposing the latest in low-power technology, processes, and power management techniques. Read More...

Astrobotic technology: NASA’s doorway to Mars exploration

Astrobotic is pioneering affordable planetary access that promises to spark a new era of exploration, science, tourism, resource utilization, and mining. Read More...

The future of medical monitoring

Medical monitoring should be small, flexible and very, very thin, according to MC10, a wearable company that announced several flexible body-worn sensors at CES. Read More...

Pulse oximeter and heart rate integrated sensor module aids wearable designs

The MAX30102 is low power, operating on a single 1.8V supply with a separate 5V supply for the internal LEDs, and small footprint so it can be integrated into wearables. Read More...

4 reasons Fitbit is being sued for inaccurate heart-rate monitors

There are at least four reasons Fitbit was just hit with a class-action lawsuit over the inaccuracy of its Charge HR and Surge heart-rate monitors. Oddly, it has almost nothing to do with engineering, design, or software. Read More...

Low-power Misfit wearable exposed at DesignCon 2016

The Shine 2 fitness and sleep tracker from Misfit goes under the knife at DesignCon next week as we almost criminally sacrifice a work of art in the irrepressible pursuit of knowledge. Read More...

World’s smallest temperature sensor draws power from radio waves

The PREMISS sensor needs no onboard battery or physical source, as it communicates and uses power from wireless network radio waves to operate. Read More...

Making smartphones smarter with capacitive touch sensing

Advanced features can be implemented in smartphones with relative ease using capacitive touch sensing technology. Read More...

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Software PLL syncs to line using moving-average filter

A software PLL with a jitter attenuator lends itself to AC-line filtering and many other applications. Read More...

Avago Tech Note: Strain sensing using optical phase interrogation technique with polymer optical fiber

Optical phase interrogation with polymer fiber offers an easy to handle and integrate strain sensing solution. Read More...

Rotational (or linear) measurement using an optical mouse sensor

A novel way to measure X-Y or rotational speed or position is presented in this Design Idea. Read More...

Antilog converter linearizes carbon dioxide sensor

Simplify gas sensor interface with some analog preprocessing. Read More...

Circuit discriminates & recovers noisy pulses

Noisy pulse trains with widely-varying amplitude are recovered with this DI circuit. Think transducers… Read More...

Inductively sense workpieces of any material

Create an inductive switch using the LDC1000 to replace mechanical switches in dirty environments. Read More...

Ferromagnetic soldering iron control

Utilize a basic materials property to sense and control soldering iron temperature. Read More...

Construction metal imager

Build up an image of inductively sensed, hidden metal using the software equivalent of a long time exposure! Read More...

Elastomer-assisted inductive sensing

Embedding inductive coils under an off-the-shelf mattress pad creates a multi-point position and pressure sensing system for sleep-posture analysis. Robotic applications also beckon. Read More...

Seismometer and structural vibration meter

Use a TI LDC1000 as a sub-micron displacement sensor for vibration measurement and logging in seismic and structural mechanics applications. Read More...

Beehive scale uses inductive sensing

A spring scale for measuring honey production senses weight inductively. Read More...

LTC Design Note: Measure RH with instrumentation-grade system monitor

An accurate, modern system monitor chip senses humidity the old-fashioned way. Read More...

Inductively sense aircraft engine valve position

Aircraft engine designers are conservative by nature, but here's a way to improve performance anyway. Read More...

Music keyboard inductively senses position & velocity

Technologies to measure key position, pressure, and velocity go back almost a century. Now, an inductive sensing IC offers another solution. Read More...

Thermowell vibration monitor

Use TI's unique inductance-to-digital converter to sense potentially dangerous vibration in thermowell sensors. Read More...

Bed levelling for 3D printer

3rd prize winner in the TI LDC1000 design contest. Read More...

Linearize thermistors with new formula

Optimize thermistor performance at any preferred temperature. Read More...

Measure two resistive sensors or multiple switches with a single Schmitt

When an ADC is overkill, you can monitor two sensors or several contacts for every Schmitt trigger. Read More...

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Sensor board promotes 96Boards CE

STMicroelectronics’ B-F446E-96B01A board simplifies the development of context-aware smart mobile, embedded, and digital-home devices. Read More...

Mini sensor touts fast laser-assisted autofocus

STMicroelectronics’ FlightSense VL53L0 time-of-flight sensor brings improved autofocus to smart phones, robotic equipment, and IoT devices. Read More...

Mini displacement sensors need little room

Inelta IZAL series inductive displacement sensors fit into highly confined spaces for use in medical, industrial, and military applications. Read More...

Accelerometers tout embedded intelligence

Bosch Sensortec’s BMA422 and BMA455 intelligent three-axis accelerometers improve user experience in smart phones and wearable devices. Read More...

Low power pedestrian navigation IC works where GPS signals are weak or missing

Announced ahead of CES 2016, the industry’s first coprocessor for wearables provides truly accurate and ultra-low power pedestrian tracking indoors, as well as in urban canyons. Read More...

Measure frequency response on an oscilloscope

Through signal processing, you can use an oscilloscope to transform a signal captured in the time domain and display it in the frequency domain. Read More...

LoRa sensor network collects volcanic data

Semtech announced that its LoRa-based long-range wireless sensor network will be used to monitor active volcanoes 24/7 in Japan. Read More...

Digital gauge accepts Type K thermocouple input

Packaged in a round housing with a 52-mm OD, the DPG-SD-1 digital temperature gauge from The Sensor Connection withstands harsh environments. Read More...

XMetrics taps ST to create swim monitor

Tiny motion-sensing and data-processing chips from STMicroelectronics form the heart of XMetrics’ activity tracker for swimmers. Read More...

9-axis motion sensor and MCU reside in tiny package

Bosch Sensortec’s BMF055 sensor combines an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer with a 32-bit MCU to enable easy programming. Read More...

LabVIEW 2015 makes productivity enhancements

National Instruments has made a long list of small enhancements that improve productivity when writing graphical code. Read More...

Interface IC calibrates sensor outputs

A 16:1 sensor-interface analog front-end IC, the XR10910 from Exar, connects multiple sensors and simplifies sensor conditioning. Read More...

Bluetooth temperature sensor works with smart phones

Based on the µBlue nRF8001 Bluetooth V4.0 low energy connectivity IC from Nordic Semiconductor, a temperature-sensing device from National Electronics & Watch Co. (NEWCO) enables low-cost temperature monitoring using a Bluetooth V4.0-compatible smart phone. Read More...

$49 Arduino-compatible board features enhanced Cortex M7 MCU

STMicro's Arduino-compatible STM32F7 Discovery Kit is an exciting development for DIY-ers interested in IoT applications. Read More...

SiTime uPower MEMS oscillator for wearables, IoT and mobile

SiTime Corporation recently announced a new family of µPower MEMS Oscillators for the wearable, IoT and mobile markets. Read More...

Modular data-acquisition system has isolated inputs

The SC-1608 series from Measurement Computing uses industry-standard 8B modules with Ethernet or USB communications. Read More...

IoT-ready smart lighting manager ICs feature multi-sensor support

Ams's new Smart lighting manager ICs support network-commanded dimming, daylighting and other basic smart lighting functions as well as an autonomous mode which only relies on a local or remote host for configuration and exception handling. Unlike most of their counterparts, they have highly-accurate built-in light sensors which enable precise daylighting, lumen maintenance, and in the case of the AS7221, color tuning. In addition, the same sub-$10 solution that drives the lighting system can also serve as a low-cost platform for many other Smart Building services. Read More...

Long-range ultrasonic sensors accurate at 6000 mm

The P43 Ultrasonic sensors by PIL target transportation, industrial and manufacturing applications where precise and highly accurate distance measurements are critical. Read More...

Signal analyzer measures 64 IEPE channels

Connect IEPE accelerometers directly to the Data Translation VIbox, then analyze sound and vibration signals. Read More...

ams develops MEMS VOC gas sensor

Gas sensing techniques are continually being investigated to improve selectivity and sensitivity of identifying different types of gases. Read More...

Vision MPU SoC surpasses existing driver assist on the road to full autonomy

Freescale upped the ante, launching a groundbreaking S32V234 vision system-on-chip (SoC) that moves the automotive industry from addressing convenience closer to taking over the wheel. Read More...

A data-acquisition system on a chip

Analog Devices has introduced the AD5592R, which contains all the functions you need to build a multifunction data-acquisition system, including ADCs, DACs, and digital I/O, on a single IC. Read More...

¼-size Arduino board packs full-size punch + on-board LiPo charge/mgmt

Despite its compact 1in x 1.5in form factor, the Qduino Mini board packs all the punch of its full-sized counterparts and throws in a turnkey battery fuel gauge and charger just for grins. Read More...

Wi-Fi equipped 32-bit Arduino board streamlines cloud-powered embedded app development

Digilent's chipKIT WiFire board is an awesome little beastie. Powered by Microchip's powerful 32-bit 200 MHz MCU, the Wi-Fi equipped Arduino-compatible platform has been paired with Imagination Technologies' Flow Cloud service development tools in an effort to make creating cloud-powered embedded applications practical for the average developer. Read More...

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for: The latest evolution in electronics hand gesturing

I am a big fan of using natural human prompts as control for the Smart Home and other Internet of Things control. Voice and hand gestures just come naturally to control our amazing new electronic design advancements. Read More...

Temperature sensors boast power efficiency

Consuming 195 nA typical when sampled once per second, the Si705x series of temperature sensors from Silicon Labs minimizes self-heating and can operate for several years with just a single coin cell battery. Read More...

ZigBee 3.0 radio chips and modules can add Smart Home/IoT capabilities to lighting applications

GreenPeak Technologies' GP691 communication controller chip and GPM6000 integrated Modules provide a much-needed solution for implementing ZigBee 3.0, Thread, and other advanced wireless protocols. Read More...

Wearable, bracelet-sized development kits offer quick IoT development

SENtrode is the first wearable-sized development kit integrating sensors, sensor fusion algorithms, programmable processor, and wireless capabilities into a bracelet-sized form factor. Read More...

Tri-axis accelerometers go thinner

Kionix Inc. (Ithaca, New York), the MEMS subsidiary of Rohm Co. Ltd., has announced to thin full-functional tri-axis accelerometers: the KX112 (2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 mm) and the KXCJB (3.0 x 3.0 x 0.45 mm). Read More...

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Teardown: Bluetooth audio dongle keeps it simple

Stereo Bluetooth audio streaming support can easily and inexpensively be added to many systems via an external adapter such as the one analyzed in this teardown. Read More...

Teardown: Motion-sensing LED lighting

An AC power source and motion-sensor activation combine to create some notable design differences between this LED light and its battery-powered, touch-operated Enbrighten sibling. Read More...

Teardown: Moto 360’s shape forces design compromises

Ongoing software enhancements are fairly effective in keeping the Moto 360's hardware current, but Motorola's circular form factor decision, while cosmetically preferable to many, also compelled some compromises in the design of the smart watch. Read More...

Thermometer measures temperature without contact

The Melexis infrared thermometer makes it safe to measure the surface temperatures of hot, hazardous, or hard-to-reach objects without having to physically touch them. Read More...

Teardown: Misfit Shine 2 and the art of power management

At DesignCon 2016, the Misfit Shine 2 Fitness + Sleep monitor went under the knife, exposing the latest in low-power technology, processes, and power management techniques. Read More...

Teardown: Wireless weather sensor transmitters

Out-of-box failure and a residence transition provided the analysis subjects for the last article in this series of weather station teardowns. Read More...

Christmas toys: Paper Jamz guitar relies on printed electrodes and connectors

Pry inside a toy electronic guitar that provides a surprisingly good approximation of an electric guitar. Read More...

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The future of medical monitoring

Medical monitoring should be small, flexible and very, very thin, according to MC10, a wearable company that announced several flexible body-worn sensors at CES. Read More...

Pulse oximeter and heart rate integrated sensor module aids wearable designs

The MAX30102 is low power, operating on a single 1.8V supply with a separate 5V supply for the internal LEDs, and small footprint so it can be integrated into wearables. Read More...

Making smartphones smarter with capacitive touch sensing

Advanced features can be implemented in smartphones with relative ease using capacitive touch sensing technology. Read More...

Bosch sensors make life easier for designers

Designers will benefit from Bosch’s BCDS Design Sensor and XDK Cross Domain Development Kit, both presented at CES 2016. Read More...

Capacitive sensing enables long battery life and new features for wearable apps

Capacitive touch can be the key to wearables as long as they include a few necessities. Here's a quick look at exactly what they are. Read More...

Rotary position sensing for electric vehicles, part II

In part II of this series on electric vehicle rotary position sensing we discuss the robustness of position sensing. Read More...

The challenges and opportunities for ADAS stereo vision applications, part I

ADAS stereo-vision systems provide both opportunities and challenges to designers. Here is a four-part article that delves into both. Read More...

Embedded controllers for the Internet of Things

To solve power consumption challenges, the next generation of IoT wearable products requires an integrated implementation. Many modern ICs are available as SoC, a single device offering reduced size, BOM cost, and power consumption. Read More...

Rotary position sensing for electric vehicles, part I

Lowering the overall automotive carbon footprint and enabling vehicles to harness lost energy drives the automotive industry today. Rotary sensors are a major component in the electric vehicle, one of the technologies at the heart of this movement. Read More...

The basics of automotive cluster device architectures and applications, part II

Part II of this series focuses on the security aspect, memory requirement, and the concept of low power modes in cluster device. Read More...

Sensor Ganging--Optimize Power in a Capacitive Sensing System—Part III

In this final segment, we will cover sensor ganging implementation and more techniques to optimize power consumption. Read More...

Sensor Ganging--Optimize Power in a Capacitive Sensing System—Part II

Here’s Part II of a 3-part series on sensor ganging. This segment includes a discussion on the trade-offs between response time and power consumption, as well as other issues resolved by a ganged sensor. Read More...

Sensor Ganging—Optimize power in a capacitive sensing system--Part I

Here’s how to optimize power consumption in a capacitive sensing system, utilizing sensor ganging with a capacitive sensing controller. Use cases of sensor ganging are covered. Read More...

Implement glove touch in capacitive touch user interfaces

Implementing glove touch on capacitive touch interfaces isn’t easy. Here are the primary challenges and how to overcome them. Read More...

Replace IR sensing with proximity detection

Proximity Detection using native characteristics of capacitive touch solutions can help reduce BOM, NRE, and manufacturing costs, and improve form factor and maximize profits. Here’s how. Read More...

Sensors combinations make for more intelligent mobile devices

Smartphones can be remarkably dumb. Learn how sensor combinations can bring about more intelligent mobile devices. Read More...

USB 3.0—Everything you need to know

Everything about USB 3.0 that you might not know, and are afraid to ask. Read More...

Build a low-cost logic design trainer

Want to set up a lab at home for your personal experiments? Read on. Read More...

Capacitive sensing improves wearable devices

Given the decreasing size of wearable technology, user interfaces as well as aesthetics get an improvement nudge with capacitive sensing. Here’s why. Read More...

Tips & Trends: Change (aka unscrambling IT, OT and IoT)

While this may at first blush look like an ad for a company—it speaks to a bigger issue and what will most likely become a trend. Does the footprint you’ve used for years still fit your IoT shoes? Probably not Read More...

Sensors lead the way in Mercedes-Benz future car

Automotive sensor technology is takes a giant stride forward in a futuristic luxury concept car that's part chauffeur, part lounge, and part entertainment theater. Read More...

Achieve tamper-proof capacitive sensing

Here is an approach that can reasonably detect when a system is being tampered with and halt the system, avoiding theft of secure data. Read More...

Sensor fusion enhances device performance

Sensor fusion is a highly specialized area of design with roots deep in modelling and simulation technology. It requires the utmost detail in the understanding of how sensors work; their shortcomings and interaction. Here’s how it is contributing superior accuracy in next-gen electronic devices. Read More...

Single PN temperature sensor executes multiple functions

Here's how, with the addition of one more transistor and a few low-cost components, we can obtain many benefits. Read More...

ESD guidelines for touch-sensing applications

This article explains the basic set-up, test procedures, ESD test guidelines and the specifications of the IEC61000-4-2 ESD standard for pre-compliance testing of ESD in touch sensing applications. Read More...

Position encoding in battery-powered electronics

Fast position measurements, like those required for motor control, require fast evaluation and pulsing of Hall sensors, and metering applications need a slow sampling rate. Here’s a solution fit for both. Read More...

Use Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) for low-cost liquid level measurement —Part III

Article three of the series discusses a cost effective and implemented application of TDR to liquid level-sensing including schematics and board layout. Read More...

Use Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) for low-cost liquid level measurement—Part II

In the previous article, the basics of Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) were discussed. In this segment, we will discuss the application of TDR to liquid level sensing. Read More...

Capacitive sensing in battery-powered devices--Design considerations

This article focuses on the effective use of the capacitive sensor electrode reference (battery ground) and presents another variable reference introduced by the user (earth). Read More...

Use Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) for low-cost liquid level measurement—Part I

This three article series introduces the use of Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) to liquid level-sensing: Article one covers theory, article two discusses the application of TDR to liquid level-sensing and three delivers a cost effective and implemented application of TDR to liquid level-sensing including schematics and board layout Read More...

Lower power and cost for Android device motion sensing using mCube’s iGyro

While the gyro enhances user experience, the cost, power consumption and board space required limits applicability to only the most expensive mobile devices. Not any more. Read More...

BAW gyroscope sensors transform inertial MEMS apps

BAW technology is being used to develop a new class of solid-state MEMS gyroscopes that not only meet power, size, cost, and high volume production requirements exceedingly well, but also add higher performance to the mix. Read More...

Implement haptics in touch-based user interfaces

Transitioning from mechanical buttons, knobs, and dials to a capacitive touch interface poses a challenge to designers because there is no tactile feedback present with capacitive touch sensors as exists with mechanical buttons and switches. Here’s a solution. Read More...

Implement a stepper motor driver for smart gauges—Part III

In this final part of the article, we’ll cover implementing motor control in a SoC with attention to key points to keep in mind. Read More...

Crystal Oscillator Fundamentals and Operation—Part IV

In this segment, we continue our discussion on the remaining specifications such as startup time, crystal overtone and spurious modes. Read More...

Crystal Oscillator Fundamentals and Operation—Part III

In Part III the discussion moves to a look at the various parameters associated with crystal oscillators and their impact on the end system design. Read More...

Semiconductor Reliability and Quality Assurance--Failure Mode, Mechanism and Analysis (FMMEA)

This article introduces how to implement FMMEA in detail, including system definition, identification of potential failure modes, analysis of failure cause, failure mechanism, and failure effect analysis. Read More...

Design and optimize electrodes for projected capacitive sensors

This article presents a circuit model combined with a cross-components influence to model the physics in projected capacitive sensors. The model predicts the unique response characteristic of the electrodes successfully, and a set of design guides for optimizing the performance is derived from it. Read More...

Crystal Oscillator Fundamentals and Operation—Part II

In Part I of this article series, we discussed the basics of oscillation and gave an overview of different types of oscillators. In Part II, we’ll cover in detail the working of a crystal oscillator and different parameters associated with its operation. Read More...

Getting to know the IoT

It’s time to take in some education on the Internet of Things. Read More...

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Accsensorizing the world securely and scalably: Q&A with Electric Imp’s Hugo Fiennes

CEO Hugo Fiennes explains how Electric Imp got on the front lines of industrial IoT implementation, and what designers need to look for in an IoT sensor-to-cloud connection. Read More...

A peek into Maxim Integrated Advanced R&D

Power is an important component to Maxim’s focus areas, which include cloud and data centers, mobility, industrial, and automotive. Read More...

The actual father of electricity

You may think that Volta or Ampere would be credited with being the father of electricity, but not so. Read More...

4 reasons Fitbit is being sued for inaccurate heart-rate monitors

There are at least four reasons Fitbit was just hit with a class-action lawsuit over the inaccuracy of its Charge HR and Surge heart-rate monitors. Oddly, it has almost nothing to do with engineering, design, or software. Read More...

Low-power Misfit wearable exposed at DesignCon 2016

The Shine 2 fitness and sleep tracker from Misfit goes under the knife at DesignCon next week as we almost criminally sacrifice a work of art in the irrepressible pursuit of knowledge. Read More...

World’s smallest temperature sensor draws power from radio waves

The PREMISS sensor needs no onboard battery or physical source, as it communicates and uses power from wireless network radio waves to operate. Read More...

7 Star Wars technologies that exist today

Many people would assume that none of the wild gadgets dreamed up by George Lucas and the gang would exist in real life, but here are seven examples of existing technology that can be found throughout the series. Read More...

IoT can save billions: The power of one percent

A wirelessly connected Internet will lead to massive economic gains Read More...

Sensor-rich ADAS speeds up

Advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles continue forward as sensors begin to move into the role of not just capturing data effectively, but also analyzing it and communicating the results to the driver and the vehicle. Read More...

NI Days 2015: The information age is over

Keynote speaker Joseph Salvo declares the info age dead. The systems age has begun. Read More...

Sub-$20 brilliant bulb includes sensors, BLE, and Wi-Fi

Qube can light up your home in 16 million colors with no hub necessary. Read More...

MEMS Executive Congress highlights industry innovation

Innovation and camaraderie in the MEMS and sensors industry were on display at the annual MEMS Executive Congress. Read More...

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