Sensor category

backscatter-system

Researchers Develop Long Range Backscatter Sensors That Consume Almost No Power

Researchers at the University of Washington developed a new backscatter sensors that can operate over long ranges with very little power. The researchers demonstrated for the first time that the device runs on almost zero power and can transmit data across distances of up to 2.8 kilometers.

The long-range backscatter system developed by UW researchers
The long-range backscatter system developed by UW researchers

Backscatter communication works by emitting a radio signal and then monitoring the reflections of that signal from sensors. As the transmitter generates the signal, the sensors themselves require very little power. But this kind of system badly suffers from noise. Noise can be added anywhere – on the transmitter side, on the channel or on the sensor array. The key to solving this problem is a new type of signal modulation called chirp spread spectrum.

By using the chirp spread spectrum modulation technique, the team was able to transmit data up to 2.8 kilometers while the sensors themselves consumed only a few microwatts of power. Such extremely low power consumption lets them run by harvested ambient energy and very small printed batteries. The cost is surprisingly cheap too. The sensors would cost just 10 to 20 cents per unit if bulk purchased.

Today’s flexible electronics and other sensors need to operate with very low power typically can’t communicate with other devices more than a few feet or meters away. By contrast, the University of Washinton’s long-range backscatter system achieved pretty strong coverage throughout a 4800-square-foot house, an office area including 41 rooms, and a one-acre vegetable farm at extremely low power and low cost.

Shyam Gollakota, the lead faculty and associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, said,

Until now, devices that can communicate over long distances have consumed a lot of power. The tradeoff in a low-power device that consumes microwatts of power is that its communication range is short. Now we’ve shown that we can offer both, which will be pretty game-changing for a lot of different industries and applications.

These low-power sensors have endless potential applications. They can be used for everything from wearable health monitors to scientific data collection devices. Though there are no confirmed products yet, the team has created few prototypes in the form of flexible sensors worn on the skin, smart contact lenses, and more.

LiDAR board is only 25x21x8mm

Dinesh Bhatia @ indiegogo.com writes:

tinyLiDAR provides Arduino users simplified access to cutting-edge smartphone-technology. Don’t pull your hair out! Now you can use ST’s latest Time-of-Flight sensor easily with tinyLiDAR. Its the low cost “easy button” of distance sensors. We’ve put all the smarts inside our onboard 32-bit micro so you won’t have to dedicate your Arduino to the task. Ultra-fast, fully-featured, accurate, low power and low cost – what more could you ask for?

LiDAR board is only 25x21x8mm – [Link]

Digital Compass

This project uses SmartEverything Development Board’s on-board iNEMO 9-axis intertial module to make a digital compass. by 4D Makers @ hackster.io:

The Digital Compass project uses the SmartEverything Development Board’s on-board iNEMO 9-axis inertial module specifically the 3D Magnetometer. The magnetometer module is sampled for the x and y axis readings and then computed its compass headings.

The project is partnered with the gen4-uLCD-24DT to graphically display a rotating compass, and accurately represent the compass heading.

Digital Compass – [Link]

BME680 measures pressure, humidity, temperature and indoor air quality

The BME680 measures pressure, humidity, temperature and indoor air quality. by Bosch Sensortec:

BME680 is an integrated environmental sensor developed specifically for mobile applications and wearables where size and low power consumption are key requirements. Expanding Bosch Sensortec’s existing family of environmental sensors, the BME680 integrates for the first time individual high linearity and high accuracy sensors for gas, pressure, humidity and temperature. It consists of an 8-pin metal-lid 3.0 x 3.0 x 0.95 mm³ LGA package which is designed for optimized consumption depending on the specific operating mode, long term stability and high EMC robustness.

BME680 measures pressure, humidity, temperature and indoor air quality – [Link]

Control Your IR Devices With Your Smartphone Bluetooth

Managing some of house devices with its IR remotes may be annoying if you are out of its line of sight. You will have to interrupt the work you are doing, move to another room, turn down the volume of your Hi-Fi for example, then go back and resume your work. Assume you can use bluetooth instead of this process, it will be a time saver and it will maintain your focus.

Using an Arduino UNO with IR and Bluetooth shields, you can create your own bluetooth-controlled general purpose remote control. Bluetooth is a good choice because it doesn’t need any active network to connect with a mobile device. Connection between them is direct (point-to-point) and is suitable for small areas. However, by using a wireless shield you will be able to control the devices through the internet.

A project by Open Electronics demonstrates how to build and program such a device. Its hardware side consists of an Arduino with two shields, and the software side is an Android application. The tutorial shows in details how each shield will work, and also how to setup and prepare the mobile application.

Parts needed for the project:

  • An Arduino Uno board or equivalent (e.g. Fishino Uno);
  • An ArdIR shield:An Arduino shield that allows creating a programmable infrared universal remote manageable from the Internet. It simulates the remote control of TVs, home appliances and air conditioners, by transmitting the same data to the desired.
  • A Bluetooth shield:
    A shield for Arduino based on the RN-42 module. It also has a dip switch that allows you to set up the modes of operation of the module RN-42.
  • A smartphone or tablet with Android OS (version 4.1 or higher), of course complete with a Bluetooth interface.

The mobile application is compatible with Android OS devices of version 4.1 (jellybean) and higher. It needs two phases to be handled:

  1. Research and connection to the target Bluetooth device.
  2. Selection and activating one of the channels, for transmitting the code to the shield.

Once the connection with the Bluetooth shield is established and the channel is selected, the program will be ready to handle a subsequent command by the user and will be listening to possible result messages returned by the remote Bluetooth device.

There is no need for additional hardware parts and work, you only have  to assemble both shields on the Arduino board. But before that, you have to upload a sketch to Arduino for handling the ArdIR shield and managing the communication with the Bluetooth shield.

For more information about how the project works, the structure of the application and source files, you can read the original guide.

Tri-axis sensor embeds pedometer

Susan Nordyk @ edn.com discuss about the Kionix’s accelerometer with integrated pedometer.

The K126 16-bit tri-axis digital accelerometer from Kionix integrates a step detector and step counter, yet minimizes power consumption. Housed in a tiny 2×2×0.9-mm LGA package, the K126 offers user-selectable g ranges of ±2 g, ±4 g, and ±8 g and output data rates of up to 25.6 kHz.

Tri-axis sensor embeds pedometer – [Link]

Air Quality Sensors on tindie.com

Pesky Products @ tindie.com writes:

This is a small (17.9 mm x 10.3 mm) breakout board with Bosch’s BME280 pressure, temperature, and humidity sensor as well as AMS’ CCS811 digital gas sensor. The sensors work in concert to provide a complete measurement via I2C register reads of indoor air quality including temperature- and humidity-compensated estimates of equivalent CO2 concentration in parts per million (400 – 8192 ppm) and volatile organic chemical concentration in parts per billion (0 – 1187 ppb).

Air Quality Sensors on tindie.com – [Link]

Prosthetics Feeling Is Now Possible With This Implantable Chip By Imec

Imec, the world-leading research and innovation hub in nano-electronics and digital technology, announced last month its prototype implantable chip that aims to give patients more intuitive control over their arm prosthetics. The thin-silicon chip is said to be world’s first for electrode density. Creating a closed-loop system for future-generation haptic prosthetics technology is the aim of researchers.

What is special about this chip?

The already available prosthestics are efficient and have their own key features; like giving amputees the ability to move their artificial arm and hand to grasp and manipulate objects. This is done by reading out signals from the person’s muscles or peripheral nerves to control electromotors in the prosthesis. Good news is that revolutionary features are coming! The future prosthetics will provide amputees with rich sensory content. This can be done by delivering precise electrical patterns to the person’s peripheral nerves using implanted electrode interfaces.

The goal behind working on this new technique is to create a new peripheral nerve interfaces with greater channel count, electrode density, and information stability according to Rizwan Bashirullah, director of the University of Florida’s IMPRESS program (Implantable Multimodal Peripheral Recording and Stimulation System)

Fabricated amazingly in a small scale!

A prototype of ultrathin (35µm) chip with a biocompatible, hermetic and flexible packaging is now available. On its surface are 64 electrodes, with a possible extension to 128. This large amount of electrodes is used for fine-grained stimulation and recording. As the short video shows, the researchers will insert the package and attach it to a nerve bundle using an attached needle which will give better results compared to other solutions usually wrapped around nerve bundles.

“Our expertise in silicon neuro-interfaces made imec a natural fit for this project, where we have reached an important milestone for future-generation haptic prosthetics,” commented Dries Braeken, R&D manager and project manager of IMPRESS at imec. “These interfaces allow a much higher density of electrodes and greater flexibility in recording and stimulating than any other technology. With the completion of this prototype and the first phase of the project, we look forward to the next phase where we will make the prototype ready for long-term implanted testing.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office sponserd this work of University of Florida researchers under the auspices of Dr. Doug Weber through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. For more details about this topic check this article.

SYNTHETIC SENSORS, All-In-One Smart Home Sensor

In the era of Internet of Things, we wanted most of our home appliances to become smart. But currently, smart devices may cost much more than their offline counterparts and they often do not communicate with each other. Trying to overcome these limitations, A Ph.D student invented a way to turn entire rooms into smart with a single low-cost device called “Synthetic Sensors“.

Gierad Laput, is a Ph.D. student of computer-human interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. His research program explores novel sensing technologies for mobile and wearable computing, smart environments, and the Internet of Things.

Synthetic Sensor is a general purpose sensor that is powered directly from a wall socket and tracks ambient environmental data to monitor an entire room. It removes the need to attach additional hardware to each of home appliances.

We explore the notion of general-purpose sensing, wherein a single, highly capable sensor can indirectly monitor a large context, without direct instrumentation of objects. Further, through what we call Synthetic Sensors, we can virtualize raw sensor data into actionable feeds, whilst simultaneously mitigating immediate privacy issues. We use a series of structured, formative studies to inform the development of new sensor hardware and accompanying information architecture. We deployed our system across many months and environments, the results of which show the versatility, accuracy and potential of this approach.

The device uses machine learning to recognize the events that happen in the room, like recognizing a particular sound pattern as taking a paper towel, but it cannot monitor when the roll may need to be changed. However, by using a “second order” sensors, the devices can capture counts and send notifications of the need to replenish. This capability can be scaled to an unlimited degree giving consumers highly specific and applicable feedback.

Developers can use the recognized events as triggers for other IoT applications. For example, one could use “left faucet on” to activate a room’s left paper towel dispenser and automatically schedule a restock when its supply runs low.

The Synthetic Sensor is still in prototyping phase, you can learn more about it by visiting its website and read the research paper. Watch this video to see Synthetic Sensors in action:

Dual die, Hall effect, latch and switch sensor is accurate & redundant

Graham Prophet @ eedesignnewseurope.com discuss about Melexis magnetic latch and switch sensors. He writes:

Melexis (Tessenderlo, Belgium) has introduced a range of new magnetic latch and switch sensors that feature two silicon dice in the same package, yielding highly reliable devices, which are aimed at automotive applications including transmission, power steering, braking and locks/latches.

Dual die, Hall effect, latch and switch sensor is accurate & redundant – [Link]