Sensor category

Send Touch Over Distance With HEY Bracelet

HEY is an innovative bracelet that really makes you feel connected to a loved one. It uses a unique technology to send your touch as far as needed. It’s the first bracelet that mimics a real human touch, not by producing a mechanical vibration or buzzing sensation, but an actual gentle squeeze.

On Valentine’s Day the stylish piece of smart jewelry was launched on Kickstarter and within one hour it was already ‘trending’. Check the campaign video:

The bracelet incorporates advanced technology that communicates through Bluetooth with your smartphone. The ingenious design  ensures that a touch wouldn’t be sent accidentally. In order to send a message you should touch the bracelet in two places and it will be transferred directly to your phone and from there to the connected HEY bracelet anywhere in the world.

Via Bluetooth HEY is connected to an app on your smartphone. This app makes sure all your little squeezes reach the other bracelet directly. It also helps you pair the bracelets easily, fast and without any hassle. And last but not least it keeps track of your love stats. For instance the distance between you and your loved one or the last time you were together. If desired, these features can be turned off. In the future more features will be added to the app.

HEY is invented by Mark van Rossem. He looked at the current world of communication and saw that one thing was missing. And that thing was touch. People communicate through technology 24/7, but there is always a physical distance separating them. So Mark set himself the seemingly impossible goal to send touch at great distances and came up with the idea for HEY. Together with successful entrepreneur, David van Brakel, he gathered a team of creative and technical professionals that have all earned their credentials in their field of expertise. Together they want to build products that bring people closer.

“From a simple touch like squeezing someone’s hand, to hugging, social touch is important in the way we maintain healthy and happy social relationships with the people that we care about most.” – Gijs Huisman, who collaborated in developing bracelet, is an expert at the University of Twente in the field of Social Touch Technology and has been researching haptic technology (touch by tech) for five years now.

No need to worry a lot about the safety of the bracelet electronics since the design is weatherproof. With only 30 minutes of charging, you will be able to send touches for around 3 weeks!

HEY adds a completely new dimension to relationships and more haptic products will be developed in the near future. For more information and updates, check the official website and the Kickstarter campaign. 35 days are left to pre-order 2 HEY bracelets with the Kickstarter deal for €83 which is 30% of the retail price.

Increasing Battery Life With UB20M Voltage Detector

Engineers at the University of Bristol have developed a three terminal pico-power chip that can cut standby drain in sensor nodes – even compared with today’s low-power microcontrollers.

It does this by replacing the low duty-cycle sleep-wake-sleep pattern used on MCU-based sensor monitors, with ‘off’. A voltage detector powered by the sensor – there is no other power source –  starts the processor when the sensor produces a voltage.

At 5pA (20°C 1V), power draw from the sensor through the input/supply pin is so low that the chip can directly interface with high-impedance sensors such as antennas, piezo-electric accelerometers, or photodiodes. With so little current required, the chip does not collapse the sensor voltage.

“It will work from five infra-red diodes in series, powered from a TV remote control 5m away, or an un-powered accelerometer”, Bristol engineer Bernard Stark told Electronics Weekly.

Called UB20M, the only power it draws from the system is 100pA(max) leakage through its open drain output transistor. Input threshold is set at 0.6V.

Once the sensor presents greater than 0.6V to the input, the output FET turns on (RDSon~800Ω), and its low resistance can either be used to turn on a p-FET to power up a microcontroller, or can wake a microcontroller from sleep.

In an extreme application example, said the University, an earthquake detector could be held in sleep for years, until a tremor caused the chip to wake its host.

Despite its impedance and sensitivity, the device can withstand 20V on its input/supply pin, and it has ESD protection. Maximum output pin parameters are 5.5V 7mA. Output turn-on time is 0.25μs, while turn-off depends on load resistance and capacitance – typically 8μs with a 5MΩ load and 180μs with 100MΩ.

Because patents are pending, exactly how the chip works is not being disclosed. It has around 40 transistors, and is made on a 180nm CMOS process, is all Stark could say.

Samples are available – through a multi-project wafer deal with Europractice and IMEC, fabricated at AMS in Austria, and the University has created an evaluation board. Due to Europractice and IMEC going the extra mile, said Stark, samples are in SOT323-5 rather than clunky research packages.

The team cautions that anyone trying the chip will need to understand high-impedance circuits, as otherwise stray mains fields, for example, will trigger it continuously and the output transistor will remain on. Lengthy sensor connections should be avoided.

In general, the sensor has to be connected to the input/supply pin with enough parallel resistance to leak away stray charge and ensure the UB20M turns off.

“We are now working on ways of bringing other power drains such as data-capture, computation, and transmission, to within the nW-power budget of a sensor, completely eliminating batteries from sensor nodes,” said the University. “An example of this (right) is where power management with a few tens of nW quiescent is actively matching its input impedance to an 80MΩ energy harvester with 10 ms intermittent output pulses.”

UB20M data sheet and eval board details can be reached from this introductory web page, and there is an introductory video.

Source: Electronics Weekly

facetVISION camera

facetVISION: Compound Eyes for Industry and Smartphone

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF have developed a process that makes the production of a two-millimeter flat camera possible. Similar to the eyes of insects, its lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets. The researchers have named their mini-camera concept facetVISION, following nature’s model. This mini-camera has a thickness of only two millimeters at a resolution of 1 megapixel.

facetVISION compound eye: First prototype
facetVISION compound eye: First prototype

All 135 small, uniform lenses are positioned close together, similar to the pieces of a mosaic. Each lens receives only a small section of its surroundings. The newly developed facetVISION technology aggregates the many individual images of the lenses to a whole picture. Finally, this technology should obtain a resolution of 4 megapixels. This is certainly a higher resolution compared to latest cameras in industrial applications like robot technology or automobile production.

The compound eye technology is also suitable for integration into smartphones. The lens of a modern smartphone must be at least 5 millimeters thick in order to capture a sharp image. The manufacturers of ultrathin smartphones are facing this challenge since the camera lens is thicker than the housing of the phone. But, this new technology can reduce the thickness to around 3 millimeters without compromising picture quality. Andreas Brückner, the project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, says:

It will be possible to place several smaller lenses next to each other in the smartphone camera. The combination of facet effect and proven injection molded lenses will enable resolutions of more than 10 megapixels in a camera requiring just a thickness of around three and a half millimeters.

The researchers also explained how this camera can be used in medical engineering as optical sensors to examine blood. The facetVISION has many other applications like checking image quality in a printing machine, parking camera in cars or in industrial robots to prevent collisions between human and machine.

Mass production of facetVISION is possible
Mass production of facetVISION is possible

Under the leadership of Andreas Brückner, the researchers have already demonstrated that facetVISION is suitable for mass production. So, keep waiting and maybe you will purchase a new smartphone equipped with a facetVISION compound eye in not so distant future.

BMP380 – Ultra-miniature pressure sensor


Harry Baggen @ elektormagazine.com discuss about the new Bosch barometric pressure sensor BMP380.

At the CES, Bosch Sensortec unveiled the BMP380 barometric pressure sensor, the smallest and most accurate pressure sensor in their portfolio to date, with dimensions of 2x2x0.75 mm. The BMP380 is targeted at applications in drones, smartphones, tablets, wearables and other mobile devices for precise measurement of elevation changes.

BMP380 – Ultra-miniature pressure sensor – [Link]

TINY LOAD CELL AMPLIFIER

Both IA are Rail-to-Rail, single or dual power supply instrumentation amplifiers, however with different standard pin-outs. The gain is set by RG. RR1 and RR2 and CR form a voltage divider that could be used to offset the output signal. If no output level shift is desired then RR1 and CR should be omitted and RR2 should be a 0R resistor.

TINY LOAD CELL AMPLIFIER – [Link]

MyPart, An Open Source Portable Air Particle Counter

One of the most harmful airborne pollutants with respect to human health is particulate matter. Air particle counters are used to determine the air quality by counting and sizing the number of particles in the air. This information is useful in determining the amount of particles inside a building or in the ambient air. It is also useful in understanding the cleanliness level in a controlled environment.

Airborne particles with a diameter of less than 10 microns pose a large risk, they can travel deeply into the respiratory system, causing a variety of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Combustion (e.g. burning wood; automobiles) can generate particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Between 2.5 and 10 microns are particles such as dust, pollen, and mold. (More information about particulate matter can be found here.)

Four members of the Hybrid Ecologies Lab at UC Berkeley, Rundong Tian, Sarah Sterman, Chris Myers, and Eric Paulos, developed “MyPart”, a device that attempts to measure air particulate matter.

MyPart’s design focuses on four goals; accuracy, size and portability, cost, and open source.

Accuracy

In the test chamber, smoke concentration was allowed to decay naturally over about 2 hours. Three prototypes of MyPart gave similar accuracy results to an expensive instrument results ($5000 MetOne HHPC-6).

Additional experiments conducted with calibration particles of known sizes and in outdoor ambient environments, and more information about the tests can be found here.

Size & Portability

The overall size of the inner sensing chamber is 18mmx38mmx45mm. These dimensions include an onboard 400mAh battery. The components related to the sensing are completely separated from the outer casing, which allows various form factors to easily be explored, developed, and shared.

MyPart sensor consumes about 2 mA while sleeping, and about 70mA during sampling.

Cost

The total cost for the bill of materials is around $75 without the cost of the digital fabrication tools required to make the components (3D printer and CNC mill). This BOM prices are for electrical components in quantities of 1 or 2, which will drop dramatically when purchased in bulk.

Open Source

MyPart’s original design files and source codes are all open source in order to give people the base form which to make and modify their own sensors, to set up sensing in their own communities, and to generate reliable air quality data.

The full BOM can be found here. The fabrication files, as well as the original design files can be found here.

MyPart’s Parts

  • Top air channel, Contains the main flow channel, a light trap for the laser light, and the air inlet.
  • Bottom air channel, Contains features to hold the fan, and the air outlet
  • Analog cap, shields the sensitive analog circuitry from ambient light
  • Fan, pulls air through the channel
  • Laser, focused light source to illuminate particles in the airstream
  • Laser holder, aligns the laser to the photodiode

Limitations

Optical scattering: The quantity and direction of light scattered by a particle is dependent on the size, composition, and shape of the particle, as well as where it strikes the laser beam. Because of these factors, accurate sizing of particles tends to be difficult with optical scattering sensors. However, rough size cutoff bins can still be produced by using the amplitude of signal peaks.

Full documentation, technical details, and how to build guide are reachable at this seeedstudio article and this instructable.

Dual-Channel Quadrature Hall-Effect Bipolar Switch Module for Magnetic Encoder

The A1230 is a dual-channel, bipolar switch with two Hall-effect sensing elements, each providing a separate digital output for speed and direction signal processing capability. The Hall elements are photo lithographically aligned to better than 1 µm. maintaining accurate mechanical location between the two active Hall elements eliminates the major manufacturing hurdle encountered in fine-pitch detection applications. The A1230 is a highly sensitive, temperature stable magnetic sensing device ideal for use in ring magnet based, speed and direction systems located in harsh automotive and industrial environments.

The A1230 monolithic integrated circuit (IC) contains two independent Hall-effect bipolar switches located 1 mm apart. The digital outputs are out of phase so that the outputs are in quadrature when interfaced with the proper ring magnet design. This allows easy processing of speed and direction signals. Extremely low-drift amplifiers guarantee symmetry between the switches to maintain signal quadrature. The Allegro patented, high-frequency chopper-stabilization technique cancels offsets in each channel providing stable operation over the full specified temperature and voltage ranges.

Dual-Channel Quadrature Hall-Effect Bipolar Switch Module for Magnetic Encoder – [Link]

iKeybo, The Advanced Projection Keyboard

Serafim is a company of some talents and experts in optoelectronics industry, and it aims to offer affordable, useful, and cool consumer electronics for a better computing experience. The latest amazing product by Serafim is: iKeybo!

iKeybo is a virtual projection multilingual keyboard that can turn any flat surface into a keyboard. iKeybo can work as a piano too.

Check this video to see iKeybo in action:

iKeybo uses a non-contact technology and has 90Hz frame rate. It turns your 5 inch display into 12 in a surface since the projection surface is 268*105mm. The keyboard consists of 78 keys where other competitors only have 66. It has a instant reaction around 11.11ms what makes it more convenient while using.You can use iKeybo with you PC, mobile devices and tablets since it works via Bluetooth and USB.

For developers, a SDK for iOS and Android is available! It supports all functions of touch screen which include single tap, double tap, rotate, press and drag, press and hold. Install the framework and make connections with your apps.

It differentiates from other laser projection keyboard because it implements a new patented technology that uses camera sensor and double linear sensors for faster calculation speed and less energy.

“What distinguish iKeybo from traditional projection keyboards is that it is the world’s first laser projection “piano” that allows users to create music instantly with piano, guitar, bass, or drums. When not in use, iKeybo can also serves as an external charger to power up devices with 10 hours of battery life. Its cellphone stand design is also perfect for desk or table to watch movies or start live streaming.“ – iKeybo team

iKeybo Features

4 Language Layouts you can choose from 4 different languages keyboard layouts (English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese) to type the language special characters that you need. You can’t add more language layouts to your iKeybo because each layout projection needs a different optical lens. Once you select a language edition or a bilingual one it will be fixed.

4 Musical Instruments with iKeybo you can play piano, guitar, bass and drums! Check this piano demo video:

Round Key Designs a special design to make it easier for typing. Other competitors use square keys with no space in between that make it possible to do a lot of typos.

Portable Charger & Cell Phone Stand  iKeybo also serves as an external charger to power up your devices with 10 hours of battery life. You can also use it as your cellphone stand to turn your mobile device into a computer within just a second.

iKeybo is not the first optoelectronics product by parent company Serafim. Check this page to know more about its products.

iKeybo is now live on a Kickstarter campaign and still has 10 days to go! You can pre-order your iKeybo with one language layout and piano for $89 and also you can get a bilingual iKeybo for $99. More information are available at the campaign page.

Smart sensors track fitness activity

STMicroelectronics’ LIS2DS12 3-axis accelerometer, LSM6DSL/M 6-axis inertial module, and new LSM303AH eCompass enable always-on fitness-tracking applications to operate longer and record progress more accurately. by Susan Nordyk @ edn.com:

These smart sensors help track movement continuously with minimal impact on device battery life by performing various motion-related calculations on-chip, instead of using the main system processor.

Smart sensors track fitness activity – [Link]

Wide range of Hygrometers Compared

robert @ kandrsmith.org has a detailed article comparing the most common Humidity sensors. He writes:

Previous experiments looked at comparing a set of six Aosong DHT22/AM2302 and compared the Aosong DHT22/AM2302 with the Aosong DHT11 and Sensirion SHT71. Here I have added five new devices meaning this test now covers most commonly available low-cost digital hygrometers. This page will present only new results. For details of how the experiment works, please refer to the previous write-ups.

Wide range of Hygrometers Compared – [Link]