Sensor category

World´s Smallest Wearable Made to Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Wearables are devices that incorporate and interact with different parts of our bodies and perform a specific task. The tasks can be to improve our health (count steps, heart rate etc.) or to make our life easier (GPS, smartwatches etc.). Technology industry has dominated the wearable market since its easier for a technology company to produce technologic devices, but other companies have joined the trend and now companies in the textile, fashion and medical industry started producing their own wearables with specific purposes. L’Oréal the world leader on makeup, cosmetics skin care etc. has now joined the race.

In a research project with Northwestern university, the world´s smallest wearable was created. Measuring less than an M&M in circumference and weighting less than a raindrop this device was designed to measure UV exposure of the user to reduce skin cancer by modulating their exposure to the sun. UV Sense has no battery, no moving parts, its waterproof, and it can be attached to any part of the body preferably a location with good sun exposure.

The device connects to an app that shows you the exposure you have had in a day or over a period. Also, the app can be configured to send notifications when users exceed daily safe sun limit.

According to the skin cancer foundation “Each year in the U.S over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3 million people, and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer”, but with this device skin cancer could be prevented instead of treated. The researchers at Northwestern have received roughly 2 million grant from the National institutes of Health to deploy fingernail UV sensors.

The device is undetectable which will encourage people to use it, and as it requires no batteries, users do not need to worry about charging the device or forgetting to do so. This means that people can now be warned about sun exposure and will be able to take measures to prevent diseases with no effort at all. The same research team is also working on other devices that could help check other health aspects to increase awareness about different diseases and the daily activities that may cause them.

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OpenMV- Machine Vision for Beginners

MV is the ability of a computer to see using analog to digital conversion and digital signal processing. The key characteristics that make a machine vision module better are sensitivity and resolution. These systems allow machines to see a broader spectrum of wavelengths such as x-rays, infrared or UV light. Nowadays, it is mainly used for object recognition, signature identification, material inspection, medical image analysis etc. Machine vision modules tend to be expensive which make them difficult to access for makers and hobbyists. OpenMV is a python powered machine vision module that aims at making MV accessible to beginners.

OpenMV was created by Hackaday user i.abdalkader and he worked towards making it affordable, small, open source and user friendly. It is programmable in python 3, and includes image processing libraries to make it easier. It is Based on STM32F ARM Cortex-M Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) running at 168-216MH, and has an ATWINC1500 FCC Certified Wi-Fi module which can transmit data at up to 48Mbp. The image sensor used was a OV965x and a OV2640. Additionally, it has 512 KB of RAM and consumes 120 mA.

The libraries included give the MV the ability to detect shapes, faces, QR and barcodes, and it also has ORB key points detector, template matching with normalized cross correlation and more. The OpenMV includes I/O headers to connect shields to extend it´s capabilities. The IDE includes many features for image processing and it is based on QT creator. OpenMV has a micro SD card socket which allows for recording data, and the device measures 45 mm in length, 36 mm in width, 30 mm in height and only weights 16 g.

Few prototypes are already on pre-order for beta testing for $65 dollars on this website, they will only be selling about 10-30 of them. It has already been funded in Kickstarter with a huge success in 2015. Some applications might include drone flying, thermal/night imaging, line detection etc.

For beginners, this device could be a game changer for learning about machine vision, and creating projects. The easy to use IDE helps the user understand and code, but at the same time its open for users to modify and create as they see appropriate. The Wi-Fi module expands the capabilities and possibilities for using it, and the fast USB computer communication makes the device easy to work with. For an advanced use it has a long way to go, which includes improvements in image detection and analysis. The complete version is still not on sale, and a date has not been announced, but the project keeps being improved to provide users with a completely functional device and IDE.

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Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor

There’s a new addition to the Omron thermal sensor family. The D6T-1A-02 is the latest in sensory innovation with super-sensitive, infra-red (IR), non-contact temperature sensing capabilities using MEMS technology.

The Omron D6T thermal sensor is ideal for building automation applications, measuring the temperature in a room, or detecting occupancy, even when people are stationary. Additionally, because the D6T is fully non-contact it offers a wider detection range, as well as ultra-sensitive heat sensors – an excellent alternative to PIR detectors and pyroelectric sensors.

Making full use of MEMS technology, the D6T includes:

  • The ability to measure surface temps anywhere between -40° to 80°C (-40°-176°F) with an accuracy of +/- 1.5°C, and resolution of 0.06°.
  • A state-of-the-art MEMS thermopile, a sensor ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), and a signal processing microprocessor in a 12.0mm x 11.6mm x 9.2mm package.
  • A narrow field of view at 26.52, which allows for accurate readings of a specific object within range.

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Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor – [Link]

Flexible Graphene sensor by Chalmers University

Researchers Develop Transparent Flexible Terahertz Sensors With Graphene

The researchers of the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology have developed a new design of terahertz sensor using Graphene. This flexible sensor can be integrated into wearable materials. Most importantly, it can be manufactured very cheaply and also it is practically transparent. This new type of sensor could be a major breakthrough by opening doors of many new applications.

Flexible Graphene sensor by Chalmers University
Flexible Graphene sensor by Chalmers University

The terahertz frequency band ranges from 100 to 10,000 GHz. Terahertz radiation is able to penetrate materials that block visible and mid-infrared light. This technology opened up a range of potential applications in medical diagnostics, process control, and even intelligent vehicles. Jan Stake, the head of the Terahertz and Millimetre Wave Laboratory at Chalmers, said,

Terahertz graphene-based FET detectors have been demonstrated on rigid substrates such as SiO2/Silicon, and flexible devices such as graphene and other concepts have been demonstrated at RF/microwave frequencies.

This band is also used by the so-called “nude-scanners” used at airport check-in desks to look for illegal items carried by passengers. THz waves penetrate normal clothing hence it can detect weapons made of plastic. As Non-metallic weapons cannot be detected by ordinary metal detectors used at the entry gates and by hand-held scanners. Thus these new inexpensive sensors can enhance security for everyone.

Terahertz transmissions have enormous bandwidth available. THz signals can be used as carriers for high-speed information links over short distances allowing data speeds up to 100 Gb/s. On the other hand, THz waves allow uninterrupted visibility in fog or rain for motorized vehicles.

There are many medical applications of the technology using sensors that are cheap to produce and are physically small. One important example is in the field of dermatology. Skin regions affected by cancer have a different reflective index to THz waves which makes the sensor a useful diagnostic tool.

Although being under development for a long time, conventional THz sensors were always large and expensive. With this new design, the Swedish research team has enabled the tech world with mass production of the sensors. New sensors will be small, flexible and cost-effective. Development of the sensors was funded by the European Union under the Graphene Flagship Initiative.

What the Chalmers team has done to combine flexibility and terahertz detection could also make it possible to build an Internet of Things connected via high-bandwidth 5G technologies.

Sensirion presents CO2 and RH/T Sensor Module

At this year’s AHR Expo 2018 trade show in Chicago (January 22 – 24, 2018), Sensirion, the expert in environmental and flow sensor solutions, is introducing the SCD30 – a humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide concentration sensor.

CMOSens® Technology for IR detection enables highly accurate carbon dioxide measurement at a competitive price. Along with the NDIR measurement technology for CO2 detection, a best-in-class Sensirion humidity and temperature sensor is also integrated on the same sensor module. Ambient humidity and temperature can be outputted by Sensirion’s algorithm expertise through modeling and compensating of external heat sources without the requirement for any additional components. Thanks to the dual-channel principle for the measurement of carbon dioxide concentration, the sensor compensates for long-term drifts automatically by design. The very small module height allows easy integration into different applications.

Carbon dioxide is a key indicator of indoor air quality. Thanks to new energy standards and better insulation, houses have become increasingly energy efficient, but the air quality can deteriorate rapidly. Active ventilation is needed to maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor environment, and to improve the well-being and productivity of the inhabitants. Sensirion’s SCD30 offers accurate and stable CO2, temperature and humidity monitoring. This enables customers to develop new solutions that increase energy efficiency and simultaneously support well-being. With the new SCD30, Sensirion has expanded its portfolio to include environmental sensor for air quality measurement.

Visit Sensirion at AHR Expo 2018 (Booth 3858) and learn more about the SCD30, Sensirion’s new humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide sensor module.

Discover more about relevant environmental parameters and Sensirion’s other innovative environmental sensors at www.sensirion.com/environmental-sensing

A Temperature Logger to Protect Sea turtles

Low-cost/power/size temperature logger

Data loggers are small, battery-powered devices used to sense and store information in different situations. They include a microprocessor, data storage, one or several sensors and they can record information for a very long period. However, some data loggers do not include sensors, but have ports that allow a sensor to be connected. They are used indoors, outdoors, and underwater for recording precise information about the environment they are in. Some applications may include monitoring light or temperature in crops, filed conditions, water level, and indoor humidity etc. Additionally, the information on these loggers can be accessed remotely or via USB.

In Hackaday a man named Nikos started a project to protect sea turtles through  research which consisted of creating a small, cheap, and power efficient temperature logger. Temperature is one of the main factors in sea turtle egg incubation success, because of climate change increasing temperatures may affect this process, so researching and monitoring temperature changes in sea turtle nesting habitats is necessary to mitigate the impact of a changing climate.

The objective of the project is to develop a temperature logger that is accurate, stores records for at least 180 days, samples temperature every 10 minutes, can operate for 180 days with a coin cell battery, is waterproof, costs less that 5 euros and can easily transfer information via computer cable. For research a huge quantity of data is needed which is why many companies use many loggers with a lot of storing capability, but this may result in high costs.

The sensor chosen for the project is the MAX30205 which can achieve a 16-bit resolution at a low consumption and cost. The creator also considered the Silicon Labs’ Si7051 and Texas Instruments’ HDC1080, but the MAX30205 was chosen because it had more details in accuracy over its operating range (which is better for scientific research).

As the temperature sensor gives its reading in 2 bytes then for the 180 days with 10 minutes intervals of reading 414720 bits will be needed, so a 512 Kbit memory was chosen. Taking price into consideration the Adesto’s AT25DN512C that comes in TSSOP-8 package was chosen. An advantage is that this type of package is small enough for the objective and its also available for 4 Mbit versions, so extra memory can be used. Also, the mcu used was the ATMEGA328PB-MN.

The project has not been finished and some improvements have been made and others are planned to be made soon. If you want to follow this project and know how it develops you can found it on its Hackaday official website.

Angle Sensing with Circular Vertical Hall Technology

Angle sensing has always been challenging particularly in industrial and automotive environment because of the need for precise and accurate sensing at high speeds. Allegro Microsystems developed the A1330 an integrated circuit angle sensor that works based on magnetic Circular Vertical Hall (CVH) technology. Unlike other angle sensors Allegro’s A1330 does not require a concentrator or a complex packaging assembly which results in lower costs.

The A1330 SoC (system on chip) include a CHV front end, digital processing, and analog output driver, and an on-chip EEPROM technology that allows up to 100 read/write cycles. This allows customer to program and calibrate parameters easily. Additionally, it has adjustable internal averaging that allows respond time to be traded for resolution. On the other hand, with averaging not enabled A1330 provides fast analog response time.

All the characteristic mentioned above makes the sensor ideal for low rotational velocities with high precision. The fact that angle scaling can be programmed allows for easy detection of mechanical failures by selecting minimum and maximum angle values that when surpassed might mean a problem.

In automotive industry hall sensors are used for fuel level, brake and clutch pedal switches, electronic parking brakes and much more. The advantage that the A1330 offers is higher immunity to parasitic fields and it can support higher target magnetic field levels (since it measures phase not amplitude). Also, it offers better temperature drifts performance which is an advantage in automotive industry where temperatures can get high. Its operational voltage is 3 V and its magnetic sensing is parallel to surface of the package, it has a current regulator for two wire operation, and a reverse battery and overvoltage protection. The package is lead free and A1330 is available as either single- or dual die option in a 8 pin TSSOP standard packaging. All the complete specifications can be found in Allegro´s website.

It is a 360˚ sensor that has ground breaking CVH technology for accurate measuring. The CVH technology is unique to Allegro which is a competitive advantage in price and accuracy. It was mainly created for industrial purposes since its precision might be too much for personal purposes. Information about prices, distributors, and availability can be found on Allegro´s official website.

[Source]

Micro-spectrometer Sensor Will Let You Check Air Quality Or Blood Sugar – Using Smartphone

Now you can use your smartphone to check how clean the air is, measure the freshness of food or even the level of your blood sugar. This has never been so easy. All credit goes to the new spectrometer sensor which is developed at the Eindhoven University of Technology and can be easily attached to a mobile phone. The little sensor is just as precise as the normal tabletop models used in scientific labs. The researchers published their invention on 20th December in the popular journal Nature Communications.

The blue perforated slab is the upper membrane, with the photonic crystal cavity in the middle
Spectrometer sensor construction: The blue perforated slab is the upper membrane, with the photonic crystal cavity in the middle

Spectrometry is the analysis of the light spectrum. It has an enormous range of applications. Every organic and inorganic substance has its own unique ‘footprint‘ in terms of light absorption and reflection. Thus it can be recognized by spectrometry. But precise spectrometers are bulky and costly since they split up the light into different colors (frequencies), which are then measured separately.

The intelligent sensor developed by Eindhoven researchers is able to make such accurate measurements in an entirely different way. It uses a special photonic crystal cavity that acts as a ‘trap’ of just a few micrometers into which the light falls and cannot escape. This trap is situated in a membrane. In the membrane, the captured light generates a tiny electrical current which can be measured accurately. The accurate working cavity design is made by Žarko Zobenica, a doctoral candidate.

The sensor can measure only a narrow range of light frequencies. To increase the frequency range, the researchers placed two of these membranes above each other closely. The two membranes affect each other. Changing the separation gap between them by a tiny amount also changes the light frequency that the sensor recognizes. To understand this the researchers, supervised by professor Andrea Fiore and associate professor Rob van der Heijden, included a MEMS or micro-electromechanical system.

This mechanism can change the measured frequency by changing the separation between the membranes. In this way, the sensor is able to cover a range of about thirty nanometers. Within which the spectrometer can recognize some hundred thousand frequencies with an exceptional precision. The research team demonstrated several applications like an extremely precise motion sensor and a gas sensor. All made possible by the clever use of the tiny membranes.

As per Professor Fiore‘s expectations, it will take another five years or more before the new spectrometer actually gets into a Smartphone. The main difficulty at this moment is the frequency range covered is still too small. It covers only a few percent of the most common spectrum, the near-infrared.

Given the huge potential and the wide field of applications, micro-spectrometers can become just as important as the camera in the smartphones of future.

MediaTek Sensio, is a 6-in-1 biosensor module for smartphones

Smartphones in recent times have contributed to the growth of the medical sensing industries with a major success in the usage of a smartphone camera and flash to detect heart rate. Specialized Apps installed on the phone can use the phone inbuilt camera and flash to read an individual heart rate with high accuracy but nothing else in the space of health monitoring. Sensio is a biosensor that will allow smartphones to track six different health metrics, a big game changer in the smartphone and medical industry.

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The Taiwan-based mobile chipset maker MediaTek has recently introduced MediaTek Sensio, the Industry’s first 6-in-1 biosensor that will turn smartphones into a personal health companion. Sensio will come as an embedded module for smartphones which make it possible to easily check and monitor one’s physical wellness.

The MediaTek Sensio MT6381 will allow smartphones to track a user’s heart rate, blood-pressure, heart-rate variability, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, ECG (Electrocardiography) and photoplethysmography (PPG). It works using an integration of hardware and software in order to measure all these health data in about 60 seconds, as claimed by MediaTek. The company will have an app that can track all of this data and have it accessible to the user and also stored in the cloud.

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The MediaTek Sensio module uses a combination of LEDs (light emitting diodes) and a light-sensitive sensor to measure the variations in red and infrared light from the user’s fingertips. The module is able to measure the ECG and PPG levels by creating a closed loop between the user’s heart and the biosensor which is made possible when the user touches the electrical sensors and electrodes on the device.

The following are the features of the MediaTek Sensio:

  • Heart Rate – Measures heart beats per minute.
  • Heart Rate Variability – Measures variation in the time between heartbeats.
  • Blood Pressure Trends – Measures blood pressure trends to help users see data over a period of time.
  • Peripheral Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) – Measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) – Measures the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time and displays it in graph form.
  • Photoplethysmography (PPG) – Measures the change in volume of blood.

The MediaTek Sensio module includes the following:

  • Integrated R and IR LEDs for reflective PPG measurement + 1 -channel ECG analog front -end.
  • Compact 6.8 mm x 4.93 mm x 1.2 mm OLGA 22-pin package.
  • Total External BOM: 4caps + 2 electrodes
  • I2C / SPI digital interface.

“Giving people the power to access their health information with a smartphone is a major step in making the world a healthier place,” said Dr Yenchi Lee, Sr. Director of Product Marketing for MediaTek’s wireless business. The MediaTek Sensio is expected to be available beginning in early 2018.

Pressure Sensor of the Future, Today

Flexible and transparent pressure sensor

Pressure sensors are used today in many fields, such as automotive industry, touch screen devices, aviation and biomedical instrumentation, many of these applications require precise and accurate measures. Many times, this can not be achieved because of the limitations of the sensors such as the inability to measure on round surfaces (if they are twisted or wrinkled). To solve this problem a transparent and bendable nanofiber sensor was developed.

The sensor contains organic transistors and electronic switches which are made from carbon and oxygen based materials, this makes the sensor capable of bending over a radius of 80 millimeters, measuring in 144 locations simultaneously. It is only around 8 micrometers thick, and it’s not sensitive to distortion.

Additionally, the pressure sensor is transparent and small, so it can be incorporated in wearables and implants. Wearables have been developed to shorten hospitals visits, to keep track of chronic diseases and for older citizens who do not want to live in assisted living facilities. Wearable technologies are capable of sensing different parameters of various diseases and transfer the data to a health center or directly to the patient, so they can take actions regarding their health. This technology improves the life quality of many patients, and can stay on for really long periods of time. Also, the main objective of wearables is to go unnoticed by both the patient and other people which is why the developed pressure sensor needs to be capable of bending, and adapting to a person´s constant moves.

Many applications have arisen from this project. For example, this device could allow breast tumor detection avoiding uncomfortable mammographs, and invasive biopsies. Also, it can be used to detect pressure and speed of blood allowing easy and superficial examination and diagnosis. Woman could now be cancer tested from home, and people who suffer from cardiac or blood pressure diseases could now be monitored away from the hospital.

The flexible nanofiber was created by combining carbon nanotubes, graphene and elastic polymers which makes the sensor really accurate even when stretched and deformed. Many companies are developing sensors with the same capabilities, but this is the first one which is not sensitive to distortion. Even though the researchers are only looking toward improving biomedical industry, the applications for this pressure sensor could be expanded to many industries. There is still a long way to go to achieve this objective, but this sensor is the first step, and health industry its a great place to start.

[Source]

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