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Vol. 93, Issue 6, June 2008, pp. I-IX

 

Bullet

 

Sensors Expo & Conference 2008: Main Trends, Newest Sensors and High Technologies

 

Sergey Y. Yurish

International Frequency Sensor Association (IFSA)

Tel.: +34 93 401 74 37, fax: +34 93 401 19 89

E-mail: ifsa@sensorsportal.com

 

 

1. Main Trends, Novel Sensors and Technologies

 

Sensors Expo & Conference 2008 – the leading sensor event in North America exclusively focusing on sensors and sensor-integrated systems took place from 9 to 11th June 2008 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, USA. Nearly 200 exhibitors participated at the event, which featured more than 70 new exhibitors, demonstrated their products and services. It was a real pleasure to see our 14 International Frequency Sensor Association (IFSA) members among exhibitors: Airmar Technology, Corp.; Analog Devices, Inc.; Endevco; EPCOS, Inc.; Fluid Components International; Honeywell Sensing & Control; Infineon Technologies; Infotonics Technology, Inc.; Oceana Sensor Technology; PCB Piezotronics, Inc.; Sensirion Inc.; Sensor Products, Inc.; Tronics Microsystems and VTI Technologies.

 

Convention Center Sensors Expo 2008

 

Any large exhibition devoted to sensors, related products and services as rule is a peculiar arbitrator (indicator) of forecasts correctness for perspective development of branch. The Sensors Expo 2008 has demonstrated it in the full measure. Many newest sensors that were exhibited by different companies at Sensors Expo 2008 for the fist time were based on modern MEMS technologies. It clearly confirms the fact that the worldwide MEMS market topped $6 billion and is growing at a compound annual rate of 14 percent. Separately, Yole Developpement (France) – a market research and business development consulting company and Sensors Expo 2008 exhibitor, did report that the MEMS market saw record growth among the top 30 MEMS manufacturers, based in part on higher accelerometer sales that were up 300 percent [1]. “The market for sensors and related technologies is growing at a phenomenal rate and is creating tremendous new business opportunities for technology companies,” commented Debra Brown, event director of Sensors Expo & Conference.

 

It is really difficult to give a detailed review of all products and services from all exhibitors in this editorial article. Let me to be focused on some newest and innovation products as well as on interesting developments in the area of frequency (period, duty-cycle, pulse width modulated (PWM)) output sensors, smart sensors and systems.

 

In this year the main exhibition’s topics were energy harvesting devices for wireless sensing and low power wireless sensor networks. Some companies have joined both these tendencies in its products. For example, GreenPeak Technologies demonstrated the Emerald GP500C chip with extreme low power features enabling energy harvesting solutions in wireless sensor networks [2]; Cymbet Corporation and ANT Wireless Sensor Networks showcased an energy harvesting powered wireless sensor network solution using the Cymbet's EnerChip™ thin-film semiconductor battery module and the ultra-low-power wireless networking technology ANT [3]. Energy harvesters from AdaptivEnergy, KFC Technologies, Inc., Perpetuum Ltd., etc. make the wireless sensing a reality.

 

Endevco's booth VTI's booth

 

IFSA Members – exhibitors of Sensors Expo 2008: Endevco and VTI Technologies with the “10 Top Sensors Products of 2007” certificates (Sensors & Transducers Magazine) [4].

 

At the fist time Silicon Sensing exhibited its new angular rate sensor CRS09 [5] – a new design of silicon MEMS gyro combined with high-quality discrete electronics, enabling best-in-class performance for demanding applications.

 

Infineon Technologies introduces new high accuracy programmable linear magnetic Hall sensors TLE4997 and TLE4998 for industrial applications [6]. Both sensors have programmable parameters including offset, bandwidth, polarity, output clamping, magnet thermal compensation coefficients and memory lock, making them highly versatile in a broad spectrum of applications. The TLE4997 offers customers analog output, and the TLE 4998 offers SENT or PWM output interfaces, providing flexibility for industrial system designers.

 

Traditionally, many types of rotation speed, flow sensors and torque sensors have frequency output. The Sensors Expo 2008 was not an exception to the rule. So, Motion Sensors demonstrated user-definable pulse output sensors for speed sensing solutions with near zero velocity (2 Hz). Zero speed Hall-Effect sensors with 0 to 10 kHz frequency output were showcased by Xensor Corporation. Fluid Components International has 0-1 kHz frequency output flow meters ST50, ST75 and pulse output Coriolis flow meters CMB, CMM and CMU in their catalog [7], and Kistler Instrument, Corp. included frequency output torque sensors 4503A and 4504A in catalog [8].

 

Omron Electronic Components exhibited solid state MEMS pressure sensor D8M-R1 with 1 kHz/9.81 Pa frequency output suitable for measurement of very small changes in gas pressure [9].

 

Speaking about plug-and-play sensors it is necessary to mark ESensors with their WS01 wireless sensor system, IEEE 1451 compatible transceiver WS03 and gateway WG03; IEEE 1451.4 prototyping kit (PC and Internet versions). In addition, exhibited for the fist time the Toxic Gas/ Environmental Monitoring Unit supports 6 plug and play sensors.

 

Data acquisition systems including data recorders with frequency sensor interface were showcased by some companies including the DTS, Inc.’s company e-Sensing (innovative precision data recorders SLICE nano and micro data recorder SLICE); DAQ system TDAS G5 with TEDS support (DTS, Inc.); AeroAstro, Inc. (STX2 satellite telemetry modem) and others.

 

ZMD AG exhibited new low-power multi-channel sensor interface circuit ZMD21013 [10] optimized for low-voltage and low-power multiple resistive bridge sensor applications, such as battery-operated consumer or industrial products. This IC provides programmable amplification and analog-to-digital conversion of the sensor signal input with an optional temperature measurement output and has a digital SPI output. Another low cost sensor signal conditioner ZMD31014 from the same company has I2C and SPI outputs. The new modular ZMD31014KIT Development Kit V1.0 allows the user a very simple and intuitive handling of both, evaluation hardware and software.

 

 

2. Conference

 

Sensors Expo & Conference 2008 held parallel to the fair and identifies cutting-edge trends, explores them in an information-pached conference program and reflects those trends throughout the exhibit floor with new product announcements, technology focused tours, and a showcase of hundreds of products and services. The conference program was dedicated to exploring the most up-to-date innovations in sensor technology including Systems & Embedded Intelligence, Emerging Sensor Technologies & Applications, Wireless Sensing, Power Management & Low-Power Sensing and others. Three one-day preconference symposiums on Data Acquisition & Analysis, Nano/MEMS and Energy Harvesting took place on 9 June 2008. During the next two conference days 58 presentations including key presentations were given by top experts from different sensors and measurements related areas [11]. Many presentations had practical impact and were very useful for engineers and new products developers who are going to use reported innovations in its future products.

 

The headline keynote of the event was James McLurkin, MIT roboticist, inventor, researcher and teacher, who presented the opening keynote entitled, “Engineering Creativity: Exercises for the Right Brain.” A keynote panel entitled, “Innovation at a Crossroads” examined the pros and cons of product innovation and platform innovation. The panelists debated both sides of the scenarios and share their experiences on how business and innovative breakthroughs really happen. The panel was moderated by John Hanks, Vice President of Measurement and Control, National Instruments, while panelists included: Nathaniel M. Sims, MD, Physician Advisor and MIT Innovation Lab Member, Partners HealthCare Biomedical Engineering at Massachusetts General Hospital; Audley Brown, Director of Advanced Propulsion System Controls, Powertrain Division at General Motors Corporation; Jon Fredrickson, Director of Innovation Expansion, InnoCentive.com; and Patricia Seybold, Author of Outside Innovation, Founder and CEO of Patricia Seybold Group.

 

 

3. “Best of Sensors Expo” Awards 2008

 

Questex Media Group, Inc. – a global, diversified business-to-business integrated media and information provider, announced during the Sensors Expo & Conference the recipients of the Sensors 2008 “Best of Sensors Expo” Awards, honoring the most exciting new products on display at Sensors Expo & Conference, taking place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

 

Melanie Martella, Executive Editor of Sensors, presented gold, silver, bronze, and honorable mention awards to 14 exhibitors in eight categories: Sensors; Sensor Components; Peripherals and Interfaces; Special materials; Data Acquisition Products; Communications & Networking Products; Control Products; and Technologies. Exhibitors submitted new product nominations and entries were judged on the basis of potential impact, application, distinctiveness, timeliness, and availability. In addition to Martella, this year’s panel of judges comprised of Deborah Lickness, John Deere, and Ed Ramsden, editorial advisory board member and sensor industry expert.

 

“The awards program recognizes cutting-edge solutions in the sensors marketplace,” said Martella. “All of the nominations demonstrated exceptional innovation, integration, and ease-of-use. We believe this year’s winners will be leaders in the sensors marketplace and offer our congratulations to the companies recognized.’’

 

The following is a list of award recipients and some winning products descriptions.

 

 

3.1 Gold Awards

  • Category: Sensors: Analog Devices’ ADIS16209 digital inclinometer

 

“We are honored to have our ADIS16209 inclinometer sensor recognized with a gold ‘Best of Sensors Expo’ award by Sensors magazine, one of the industry’s most respected publications,” said Andy Garner, product line director for iSensor intelligent sensor products, Analog Devices. “This is the second year that an iSensor intelligent sensor product has received a ‘Best of Sensors Expo’ award. Last year, the ADIS16350 won the silver award in the sensors category. The ADIS16350 combines three axes of angular rate sensing, three axes of acceleration sensing and a temperature sensor to cost-effectively provide full six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) motion measurement in applications such as vehicle-mounted cameras and antennas, commercial aircraft guidance units, robotics, and prosthetics.”

 

Analog Devices won the award for its programmable, dual-mode inclinometer sensor which is part of its iSensor™ intelligent sensor product family. The industry’s most precise MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) inclinometer, the ADIS16209 is suited to a diverse set of industrial applications that require inclination changes to be measured, including surveying equipment, factory machine tools, satellite antenna stabilization systems, motion safety monitors and automotive wheel alignment. Functionally equivalent inclinometer solutions are typically 100 times larger than the ADIS16209.

·

  • Category: Sensor Components: Cymbet’s EnerChip CBC050 [3]

  • Category: Data Acquisition Products: Diversified Technical Systems Inc.’s Slice and Slice Nano DA systems

  • Category: Sensors: MicroStrain Inc.’s Shear-Link

This year's award was for an energy harvesting wireless strain node ("ESG-LINK") which was recently used to measure static and dynamic strains in rotating helicopter components during flight tests. The ESG-LINK will operate indefinitely - without the need for batteries, by converting the component's cyclic strains into DC power using piezoelectric materials (patents issued and pending).

 

"We're delighted to win our ninth award at Sensors Expo 2008. Our first successful flight test, performed in concert with Bell Helicopter, has demonstrated that our technology works. The potential of energy harvesting combined with wireless sensing will now begin to be fully realized, not only on rotating helicopter components, but on a wide range of machines, structures, and systems", said Steve Arms, MicroStrain's President.

 

ADIS16209 programmable, dual-mode inclinometer

 

EnerChip CBC050

 

ADIS16209 programmable, dual-mode inclinometer.

Cymbet’s EnerChip CBC050 [3].

 

 

3.2 Silver Awards

  • Category: Communications & Networking: Arch Rock Corp.’s PhyNet v3.0

  • Category: Sensor Components: KCF Technologies Inc.’s Model WSK100

  • Category: Sensors: Omron Electronic Components LLC’s Model D6F-P

  • Category: Sensors: Solidica Inc.’s Solo Volt Model MSPN-SVBHM0801

Solidica, Inc. was awarded Sensors Magazine’s prestigious “Best of Sensors Expo” Gold Award for the second consecutive year. This year’s top product honor recognized the application of Solidica’s Pantheon™ ultra-rugged wireless sensor network system in smart armor applications.

 

Solidica leveraged its Chorus™ and Solo™ products, part of the Pantheon™ integrated wireless/wired sensor network system, to introduce the smart armor sensor system for use on both personal and vehicle armor platforms. The system utilizes proprietary technology to sense, collect, analyze and transmit real-time vital signs, impact and damage assessment data to tactical support centers. Like all Pantheon™ products, the smart armor system offers distributed architecture intelligence with sensor-level application monitoring and processing of diagnostic, prognostic and life-cycle management data.

 

“To sense armor conditions while in theater has been a long-term challenge in the industry, and the feedback from our customers strongly indicates our system’s ability to address such a challenge,” said Lee Ann Schwope, Advanced Materials Product Manager at Solidica. The modular, scalable system architecture can be combined with any armor product as a rapid retrofit, thereby enabling versatile integration and fast implementation.

 

When utilized conjunctly with the company’s Chorus™ telematics, diagnostics and prognostics module, the system utilizes GPS and RFID/UID data to track, locate and transmit essential condition information to remote locations. The system’s sophisticated functionality yet simple infrastructure can provide off-site monitoring of key information to help ensure armor systems are replaced when damaged, provide real time combat action alert, assess projectile impact data as well as store data for preventative maintenance and soldier health. This combination of Chorus™ and Solo™ products can also be applied to other hazardous or non-military environments where personnel and vehicle safety is crucial, such as emergency response, fire-fighting, chemical processing and disaster relief teams.

 

“We are thrilled to once again receive such high accolade from the industry,” said Ken Johnson, President of Solidica. Pantheon™, which also received the Expo’s highest honor in 2006, quickly and affordably converts nearly any mobile or stationary system into a wireless and digital platform. It enables remote monitoring and control of wired or wireless systems, delivering ultra-rugged, smart and secure performance in harsh environments.

 

“Our growing customer roster and market demand has continued to validate how our products can improve operations, safety and the overall bottom-line. And to receive this year’s award further underscores the benefits we continue to deliver to the many customers and markets we serve.”

 

 

3.3 Bronze Awards

  • Category: Communications & Networking: Millennial Net Inc.’s MeshScape 5, Model 5524 [12]

Questex Media Group has acknowledged Millennial Net for the second consecutive year by awarding the Company with two “Best of Sensors Expo” Awards at the Sensors Expo & Conference in Rosendale, IL. Fifth generation wireless sensor networking system MeshScape® 5 received Bronze Award in Communications & Networking category and second generation wireless thermostat Wi-Stat II received its second Honorable Mention Award in Control Products category.

 

“Wireless sensor network applications are gaining momentum as the technology matures and user acceptance builds on successful deployments and demonstrated performance in real world environments”, said Martin Hanssmann, CEO Millennial Net.

 

The MeshScape 5 wireless sensor network protocol uses patent pending virtually-on frequency hopping technology. It also uses patented Persistent Dynamic Routing (PDR) techniques to form a self-configuring, wireless mesh network. PDR uses a node-initiated network formation for efficient topology discovery, and utilizes "best route" information for network re-formation, making MeshScape 5 an ideal wireless protocol for use in commercial and industrial applications. It is designed to overcome challenges of ever-changing RF environments and is perfect for monitoring and control applications such as building automation, energy management, environmental monitoring, factory automation, healthcare and wellness monitoring and process automation. New innovations over previous generation include:

 

Virtually-On technology to enable mesh nodes to run at low power for battery operations over several years.

Active Frequency Hopping to avoid potential interferences for robust operation in highly noisy environments.

  Low Latency capability to reduce the end–to-end packet delivery time to below seconds within a multi-hop environment, even with battery operated mesh node.

  Highly Scalable Dynamic Addressing to ease installation and commissioning for large and complex networks.

  • Category: Sensors: SignalQuest Inc.’s SQ-MIN Model 830P

  • Category: Sensors: Sporian Microsystems Inc.’s AssetOverseer Model SS-200

3.4 Honorable Mention

  • Category: Sensor Components: Endevco Corp.’s Model 67

  • Category: Communications & Networking: MeshNetics’s ZigBit AMP Model ZDM-A1281-PN

  • Category: Sensors: Millennial Net Inc.’s MeshScape 6242 Wi-Stat II Model MN-6424-WiStat2-ASM

Wireless thermostat Wi-Stat II is designed for easy retrofitting of existing HVAC infrastructures. It connects to existing HVAC wiring to harvest power and to control the HVAC unit and works with the company's Wi-EMS energy management system to provide Web-based remote monitoring, control, and maintenance of building environments. This second generation product joins a growing family of devices, based on Millennial Net's MeshScape wireless sensor network technology, utilizing standard 802.15.4 unlicensed radio band. Wi-Stat II completely transforms the way energy use is being currently managed by introducing three major innovations that reduce the cost and disruption of existing facilities needing to conserve energy immediately:

 

1.  Wi-Stat II operates bi-directionally within the wireless sensor network to take intelligent control action. This provides local autonomy and robustness from disruptions in external communications.

 

2.  Wi-Stat II is the only thermostat replacement to provide 802.15.4 wireless communications for buildings with pneumatic interfaces for HVAC controls. The Wi-Stat II supports both pneumatics and wired interface options to rapidly and affordably upgrade existing systems for energy management, and provides a migration path to future elimination of pneumatics, if desired.

 

3.  Many users are intimidated by sophisticated technologies, when they simply want to be comfortable, and are more accepting of simpler conventional user interfaces. Therefore, the Wi-Stat II is available in three options: 1) pre-integrated with a Honeywell 5130 as the local user interface; 2) ready to be integrated to a user supplied conventional thermostat; 3) to be operated without an integrated thermostat.

 

Some of the Best of Sensors Expo award winners are featured on the Sensors Web Portal (www.sensorsportal.com) at Sensors & Transducers Magazine in the New Products Exhibited at Sensors Expo 2008 section [13].

 

 

4. Afterworlds

 

“The major sensors exhibition and conference event in the USA has clearly demonstrated how modern technologies be used to help companies become more competitive, more productive and more profitable. We are very pleased that the event was so well received from attendees, exhibitors and sponsors and look forward to producing another high-quality event again next year” commented Debra Brown, event director.

 

The 2009 Sensors Expo & Conference will be held again at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL from June 8-10, 2009 and will be co-located with the International Robotics & Vision Show. See you at Sensors Expo & Conference 2009 !

 

 

References and Web Links

 

[1].  R. Colin Johnson, MEMS Market Tops $6 Billion, EE Times,

GreenPeak Launches the Emerald GP500C Communications Controller, Press Release, June 2008.

[3].  Cymbet and ANT Showcasing Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor Network, Press Release, June 2008.

[4].  10 Top Sensors Products of 2007 at Sensors Web Portal (http://www.sensorsportal.com).

[5].  Silicon Sensing Launches New MEMS Gyros, Press Release, June 2008.

[6].  Infineon Enhances Magnetic Sensor Family: Announces New High Accuracy Linear Hall Sensors for Industrial Applications,

       Press Release, June 2008.

[7].  Air, Gas, Liquid Flow Meters, Flow Switches & Level Switches, Fluid Components International,Doc. No. 02MK011471F.

[8].  Torque Sensors, Kistler, 2007.

[9].  Omron Sensors, SB_SENS_02, USA, 2008.

[10].ZMD21013 Multi-Sensor Interface Circuit Puts Precision, Low Power Consumption at Top of Product's Sophisticated Architecture,
      Press Release
, June 2008.

[11].Sensors Expo & Conference. Advances in Measurement, Monitoring, Detection and Control, 2008 Show Directory.

[12].Millennial Net Introduces MeshScape 5, Its Fifth Generation Wireless Mesh Sensor Networking System, Press Release, 2008.

[13].New Products Exhibited at Sensors Expo 2008, Sensors & Transducers Magazine, Vol. 93, Issue 6, June 2008.

 


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