Sensors Presents the Best of Sensors Expo AwardsAugust 1, 2005 By: Barbara G. Goode, Sensors Sensors
"I'd like to thank our competitors for challenging us to continually raise the bar in product innovation," said MicroStrain president Steven Arms as he accepted his company's latest Best of Sensors Expo award during the June 2005 show.
Arms's comment illustrates the spirit of the Best of Sensors Expo awards. With the awards, the editors of Sensors seek to honor those products we feel embody the most useful innovations, and will have the greatest impact on sensor-based design in the future. Evaluating the nominations can be a bit agonizing, and often we've been tempted to give awards to products we think are just terrific (see this month's editorial column)—even if they don't strictly adhere to our judging criteria (see the sidebar "Here's the Program"). But of course the criteria are critical to the process, and we rely on them to keep us on task.
MicroStrain's 2005 award-winning product exemplifies one of the themes evident in product launches at this year's event: Inertial measurement units, or IMUs (systems that detect altitude and motion by integrating accelerometers and angular rate sensors/gyros, and sometimes magnetometers). Another trend among this year's award winners: Ease of use, exemplified in particular by Sensor Synergy's NEEM-112, which makes it simple to connect conventional sensors to the Internet. Which brings to mind another theme in the awards: Wireless data communication (yes, still hot as ever!). Now, for details on the individual winners . . .
The sole winner in the category Sensor Components is Analog Devices' (www.analog.com) AD7745 capacitance-to-digital converter, an elegant, high-resolution ΣΔ converter that accepts direct capacitance inputs. What a handy thing! We chose the product mainly for this practicality aspect, but we also appreciate its astonishing resolution— 20 aF.
In the Sensors category there were two gold winners. Being a huge fan of energy harvesting schemes, I was captured by EnOcean's (www.enocean.com) STM 100, a wireless sensor module featuring a small solar cell for battery-free operation. Oh, so it requires a light source, you ask? Well, only an occasional one (and here's the beauty of the design): An integrated energy store enables the STM 100 to operate in total darkness for several days. Brilliant!
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