How can you get a ballpark price for a sensor in a new design?

Pricing is one of the top criteria for selecting one sensor supplier over another and often for specifying a specific sensor over another for a new design. Some sensor companies, such as semiconductor companies that supply microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and other semiconductor-based sensors, have a buy page on their website with low volume pricing. For […]

What types of sensors are used in robots? Part 2 of 2

In addition to the sensors identified in Part 1 of this blog, there are several others required for different types of robots. Chemical, light and color sensors enable the robot to evaluate, adjust and detect problems with its environment. For humanoid robots that can walk, run or even dance (like Dobi, made by Chinese company […]

What types of sensors are used in robots?

Fully functional human robots, such as those being developed by Boston Dynamics, need numerous sensors to simulate a variety of human and beyond human capabilities. For the human part, the sensors provide the ability to see, hear, touch and move. In general, industrial robots employ sensors for a variety of activities. Some sensors provide environmental […]

How does time of flight sensing measure distance?

At Sensor Expo 2017, John from ST Microelectronics explains the FlightSense principle for his company’s time of flight (ToF) sensor to show how it can be used to measure distance from an object. The ToF chips emits a tiny beam of laser light from its emitter (a Vertical Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) that hits a […]

How can you detect seismic waves?

At Sensor Expo 2017, Jacob Hicks, the assistant product manager for Omron Electronic Components’ Sensors unit shows the capabilities of the D7S, a vibration sensor that can detect seismic waves, and Itron’s Riva development board for wireless communications. Partnering with Itron, Omron’s D7S sits on top of Itron’s Riva board. The D7S contains an ASIC, […]

How can you use a three-axis position sensor?

At Sensor Expo 2017, Nick Czarnecki, regional marketing manager from Melexis, demonstrates concepts for position sensing using the company’s MLX90393 Triaxis position sensor in human machine interface (HMI) applications that include rotation, push detection and controlling 3D motion with a joystick. The demo shows how a non-contacting rotating knob can set the absolute axis position […]

When will everyone use augmented reality?

In his keynote address at Sensors Expo 2017, Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of predicts that at some point in the near future augmented reality (AR) sales will surpass those of smartphones. (Excerpt from “Superpowers to Change the World: How Augmented Reality Helps Advance Humanity.”) When will everyone use augmented reality to experience reality […]

How can magnetic sensing control the flight of a drone?

At Sensor Expo 2017, Ali Alaoui, a field applications engineer from Crocus Technology, explains the use of his company’s Tunneling MagnetoResistance (TMR) sensing technology to control the flight of a drone. Crocus Technology’s patented TMR sensing technique employs a Magnetic Logic Unit (MLU) that enables ultra-sensitive magnetic sensors as well as highly robust secure embedded […]

What’s the future of augmented reality?

In his keynote address at Sensors Expo 2017, Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of tells how augmented reality (AR) is poised for considerable growth. (Excerpt from “Superpowers to Change the World: How Augmented Reality Helps Advance Humanity.”) In 2009, Inbar told a conference audience that in ten years everyone will use AR to experience […]

How can sensors determine machine health?

At Sensor Expo 2017, a ROHM Semiconductor expert discusses how several sensors including pressure, temperature, flow and level sensors connected through sensor node can help monitor a machine’s health or control a process. In the demo, each sensor node collects the data and uses wireless sub-gigahertz radio called Wi-SUN and transfers the data to a […]

How can sensors predictably fulfill a market need?

At Sensor Expo 2017, Roger Grace, president of Roger Grace Associates, a marketing consultancy that specializes in sensors and microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices, explains the role that marketing should play in new product development and product introduction.  Roger has frequently published many articles on the topic that are available through links on his website. In […]

Where can time of flight sensing be used?

At Sensor Expo 2017, Doug Gates, a technical sales manager from Melexis explains the applications for his company’s two-chip semiconductor solution for time of flight (TOF) sensing. Time of flight sensing uses optical, acoustic, electromagnetic or other wave techniques to measure the time that it takes for the source to travel a distance through a […]

How have pressure sensors changed over the last few years?

At Sensors Expo 2017, Pete Smith, Sensors Knowledge Manager at TE Connectivity, explains how sensors have evolved over the last few years to address different application requirements from TE Connectivity’s perspective. Pete’s story starts with the M7100,  a standard industrial pressure sensor for TE Connectivity that addresses fuel rail pressure measurements in fuel injected vehicles. […]

How have pressure sensors changed over the last few years?

At Sensors Expo 2017, Jim Brownell, sales manager for All Sensors, shows the progression of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensing over the past 30+ years from his company’s perspective. Starting with the A or alpha package that was created in the early 1980s, a packaged element pressure sensor had two integral ports and six leads […]

How can you make batteries last forever in a wireless sensing system?

At Sensors Expo 2017, Geoffroy Gosset, CEO and founder of e-peas, explains how a variety of energy harvesting techniques and low power solutions that his company supplies can answer this question. Using the company’s power management ICs (PMICs), systems can be designed that run ARM processors continuously at low frequencies and draw less power than […]

How can sensors find an available parking spot?

If you are a stranger with a car in a crowded city or even if you know the area well, a frustrating part of being in the most popular downtown places can be finding a parking spot. At Sensors Expo 2017, Raffaelli Riva, an application engineer from STMicroelectronics, demonstrated how sensors and wirless communications are […]

How do you accelerate an energy harvesting design?

One of the more common techniques for accelerating designs and avoiding unexpected design problems involves software tools. For energy harvesting (EH) applications, Mentor Graphics on-line modeling and simulation platform called SystemVision, a cloud-based design system, provides component/system suppliers and users the basis for a new EH design tool. Since many designers are intrigued by the […]

How do you calculate flow from a pressure measurement?

A variety of techniques are used to measure flow, including: the Coriolis Effect, mass air flow, vortex, magnetic, thermal, ultrasonic, turbine and positive displacement meters as well as pressure sensors. With the high volume, low cost and reliability of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensors, these products are a frequent choice for measuring both liquid and […]

How can you detect a wrong way driver?

In broad daylight and with several oncoming vehicles, the Do Not Enter and Wrong Way signs seem like they are unnecessary. However, late at night with no oncoming traffic and especially with an impaired driver, the Wrong Way sign is not enough to stop a wrong way driver (WWD). It turns out that in the […]

How does analog to digital conversion impact sensor accuracy?

When an analog sensors’ output is converted to a digital output with an analog to digital converter (ADC), conversion resolution, conversion accuracy, conversion speed or bandwidth, inherent system noise levels, and power consumption are all ADC tradeoffs. Errors due to temperature, supply voltage, linearity, quantizing, and other factors may reduce the accuracy of an ADC […]

What are common ways to protect a sensor from harmful exposure?

For a sensor, the amount of harmful exposure it receives from the environment and harmful constituents in the measuring process depends on what is being sensed and the environment itself. Different packaging is required to cope with and survive the specific situation. Two major considerations for protection are at the sensing element/transducer level or at […]

How do you know when an IP69K package is required for a sensor?

To answer this question, you first need to know what an IP69K package is. The  (IEC) developed its IEC 60529 rating system to define different degrees of protection (i.e., ingress protection (IP)) for enclosures. The most recent version is IEC 60529:1989+AMD1:1999+AMD2:2013 CSV, Consolidated version, Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code). It costs hundreds […]

How fast is that thing going?

The need for speed implies the requirement for speed sensing. Speed sensors provide the input and feedback data to monitor and control motors and other rate sensitive linear and rotary applications. For example, the throughput of automated high-speed production lines depends on many parameters but the line speed is an early indication of expected versus […]

Is it a sensor or a transducer?

The terms sensor and transducer are frequently used interchangeably, however, there are differences. Going strictly by definition, a transducer is a device that translates primarily nonelectrical quantities into electric signals [1]. Instrument engineers limit the definition to a device used for measurement purposes. In this context, transducers can be used for measuring mechanical, thermal acoustic, […]

How can a sensor help determine the onset of labor?

At CES2017, Molly Dickens from Bloomlife explains how a sensor in the company’s smart pregnancy wearable allows a pregnant woman to automatically track and monitor the timing and duration of contractions. The passive sensor listens to the muscle activity similar to a heart monitor in hospitals. The application demonstrates what can be done with today’s […]

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