Wireless modules are now more reliable, power efficient, and more cost effective than ever, and require less development time to implement. Utilizing these solutions in sensor applications presents new opportunities for manufacturers.
Here are six key benefits of integrating wireless connectivity into your sensor application.
1. Increase installation flexibility: There are some places where it just isn't possible to run a wire, whether due to physical constraints, cost, etc. A wireless module, potentially also paired with a battery, can enable sensing in places where a wired installation is impractical.
2. Reduce installation costs: In both new installations and retrofits, the cost of installing wires to connect a network of sensors can equal or exceed the cost of the sensors themselves. A wireless network can enable sensors to be installed and commissioned in a quick, cost-effective manner.
3. Additional functionality: The addition of a low power wireless transceiver can facilitate new use cases for your sensor. Utilizing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi can enable direct connectivity to a smart phone or tablet, allowing the sensor manufacturer to utilize its user interface for configuration and reporting. Adding a wireless standard can also potentially increase reach across markets. For example, adding ZigBee or Z-Wave to the product can allow the sensor to be integrated into existing home and building automation networks as a standalone end device.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data revolution is playing out today as more and more "dumb" devices are made "smart" by adding sensors and an Internet connection to sophisticated cloud-based database systems that generate analytics from this previously untapped data collection. Sensor design companies play a pivotal role in this process, providing devices that interface the physical world to this virtual universe, feeding it with data.
However, sensor companies face a challenge monetizing their contribution to this market. Teams creating data systems that collect, store and analyze IoT data sell high-margin software products that produce subscription annuities, providing profits and operational funding for the whole life of devices deployed in the world (Figure 1).
Fig. 1: Data systems collect, store, and analyze IoT data.
Likewise firms providing Internet connectivity build revenue streams by adding ubiquitous IoT devices to their subscription base. Companies engaged in designing and manufacturing sensors sell typically low-margin hardware devices that produce a one-time revenue for each device sold. The greatest part of the value of the IoT is the data and associated analytics, but sensor companies are not in a strong position to claim revenue from ongoing data collected by their devices.
Of course many sensors are used in final products or deployed by themselves with no IoT capability. Providing IoT capability may add utility for the end user but upgrading designs with internet connectivity and building or integrating with a cloud portal requires time and expense and may involve skills outside the core competencies of the existing engineering teams. In these cases a potential revenue stream is being left on the table, so naturally solutions are becoming available to recapture it.
MCUs And Development Boards Accelerate Embedded Design
May 26, 2016
Now available are entry-level, mid-range, and high-end development boards for the latest members of the STM32F7 microcontroller (MCU) series. The MCUs enter volume production with up to 2 MB of on-chip Flash memory. Development tools include an STM32 Nucleo-144 board featuring the STM32F767 variant. Also available is a Discovery Kit supporting the STM32F769, which has TFT-LCD and MIPI®-DSI support. In addition, there are evaluation boards for the STM32F769 and the STM32F779, which has a cryptographic accelerator for security-conscious applications. The evaluation boards and Discovery Kit also come with a 4-inch QWVGA 800x400 MIPI-DSI display featuring a capacitive touchscreen. Price for the STM32F769I-EVAL or STM32F779I-EVAL evaluation boards is $360 The $79 Discovery Kit (STM32F769I-DISCO) and the $23 STM32 Nucleo-144 board (NUCLEO-F767ZI) are available immediately. For further information, visit http://www.st.com/stm32f7-nb
OPO Offers Broadband Wavelength Tuneability
Excelitas Technologies Corp.
May 26, 2016
The iFLEX-Agile high-power, continuous-wave (CW) optical parametric oscillator (OPO) employs optimized optics for fine-tuning of specific wavelengths from NIR to MIR. Controlled via USB, the component enables rapid and reproducible settings of any desired wavelength from 1.47 µm to 2 µm and 2.3 µm to 3.8 µm without the need to change optics or modules. Emission linewidths can vary from 500 GHz to below 1 MHz depending on the configuration and specific application. The iFLEX-Agile can also be customized upon request for extended wavelength range, narrow linewidth at 2,300 nm to 3,800 nm, higher power levels, higher wavelength tuning resolution, and mode-hop-free tuning over ranges greater than 10 GHz.