MEMS And Wireless At Sensor Expo 2011

June 15, 2011
Technology Editor Bill Wong checks out Sensor Expo 2011 and ESC Chicago to see the latest MEMS sensors and wireless sensor systems.
I stopped by the Sensor Expo and the ESC Chicago again this year to take in the latest sensors and wireless support and was not disappointed. You can see some of the things I saw at these co-located shows on Engineering TV on the Sensor Expo 2011 playlist.

The videos are not the greatest since I shot them using a Kodak Zi8 and even did one using my vintage Droid. The Kodak ran out of batteries. I'll let you figure out which one it was. The wizards at Engineering TV cleaned them up nicely.

I saw some neat MEMs sensors like Epson's S4E5A0A0 Inertial Measurement Unit (see 6DOF Inertial Measurement Unit Targets Industrial Apps). It has the lowest angular rate output noise based on rate noise density but it targets higher end industrial applications so it is not one of those dirt cheap units found on smart phones. Of course you get what you pay for so check it out if you need accuracy.

One that MEMS gyro I haven't written up yet but did see is the PinPoint from Silicon Sensing. I did do a video interview but it is not up yet. Check the Sensor Expo 2011 playlist now to see if has been posted. This is a tiny gyro (6mm by 5mm by 1.2mm). The CRM100 has a perpendicular or ‘In-Plane’ sensing axis and the CRM200 has a parallel or ‘Orthogonal’ sensing axis.

Analog Devices had their new ADIS16407 iSensor IMU (inertial measurement unit) on display (yes, I did a video of this one too). It has a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis magnetometer and a pressure sensor in a single package. This proves their claim of a 10-DoF (degrees-of-freedom) IMU. That is a lot of stuff packed into a small package.

There was a lot more on the sensor side as you might expect including some neat pressure sensors from Tekscan. I'll have to see what else I can get written up on those.

The sensor show was as much about wireless as sensors. Microchip announced an update to their MiWi wireless technology. This is a low cost mesh networking system that works with Microchip's wireless chips. It is free and the latest Pro version gives Zigbee a run for its money. MiWi tends to be cheaper and easier to use with a much smaller footprint but lacks the interoperability of ZigBee. Still, if you need a few thousand custom devices in a network then MiWi Pro has the necessary support. Some nice wireless tools included with it.

Looking for a quick conversion to Wi-Fi? I checked out NPE's WiFi-IT modules. Neat stuff including the robot they had running around the show. video was posted already.

Need to wrap this up but first a couple quick mentions. Adlink was over on the ESC Chicago side showing off all the boards including lots of Sandy Bridge-based solutions from small modules to full rugged systems.

Rohm Semiconductor is changing resistive touch. Its Multi-Touch Controller for Resistive Touchscreen support was impressive. Of course, there is a video on this too.

More later on things like Renesas' micros and RFM's M2M support.

About the Author

William Wong Blog | Senior Content Director

Bill Wong covers Digital, Embedded, Systems and Software topics at Electronic Design. He writes a number of columns, including Lab Bench and alt.embedded, plus Bill's Workbench hands-on column. Bill is a Georgia Tech alumni with a B.S in Electrical Engineering and a master's degree in computer science for Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

He has written a dozen books and was the first Director of PC Labs at PC Magazine. He has worked in the computer and publication industry for almost 40 years and has been with Electronic Design since 2000. He helps run the Mercer Science and Engineering Fair in Mercer County, NJ.

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