This past year to date has been quite stellar in terms of new sensor devices that do more than raise one’s eyebrows in amazement. On a daily or weekly basis, this stream of innovation is fairly easy to deal with and report on objectively, no matter how exciting a new device or technology is. But it all catches up with you by the end of the year when you have to vote on which one of those innovations is the best of the best.
An interesting point, when it comes to the Sensor Innovation and Application awards, the entries are really not in competition with each other. The nominees are in competition for the award. For example, in each category, similar devices, like pressure sensors, are not being judged. We are not picking the best pressure sensor, or best medical application, for example. For the Innovation award, we are naming the best sensor device or platform that came out the past year. It could be an industrial platform chosen from an array of other devices that have nothing to do with industrial designs.
Life would be much easier were we to form individual categories. But by doing it the way we do, it becomes obvious that the winners transcend their respective categories and are noted for their exemplary qualities on all levels.
So goes it with this year’s Gold Awards for Application and Innovation. At Sensors Expo West 2017 in San Jose, CA, ams and Libelium were awarded the Gold Award for Best Innovation and Best Application, respectively.
Smart Accessory Communications Interface (ACI) - ams
Truly an ams invention, the Accessory Communications Interface (ACI) uses a single wire to carry power and bidirectional data as well as the digital audio signals in portable products. The single line could be the microphone or headphone wire with the standard 3.5-mm interface. This approach eliminates the battery, thereby reducing the product’s size and weight.
The platform is said to exhibit ultra-low latency, enhancing the company’s noted active noise cancellation (ANC) topology. The combination of ACI and the ANC component enables the first battery-free ANC over a 3.5-mm jack. This allows noise cancellation on phone calls and on music playback.
Additionally, the communication and power transfer over a single wire, for this case the microphone wire, allows for additional sensors without the need for an extra battery. It is possible to add headset-mounted sensors for features such as gesture sensing and temperature sensing. ACI supplies up to 100 mA to accessories and enables the use of LEDs for features like illuminated wires or LED displays.
Christian Feierl, Head of Marketing Audio Sensors at ams sums it up nicely, “Due to the ultra-low latency, and hence the high speed, the smartphones computation power can be used for the required smart data processing. At its heart, this is why this ACI solution enables the slimmest BOM count and probably the most cost effective solution available today.”
Libelium’s MySignals platform can simply be described as a hospital the size of standard paperback book. It is rightfully promoted as the most complete biometrical platform available. Essentially, it is a comprehensive biometrical IoT platform that allows developers to create new software eHealth applications and medical devices by measuring 20 different body parameters. All the biometric data gathered are encrypted and sent to the Libelium Cloud in real time and saved in users’ private accounts.
MySignals is a highly effective, multidimensional medical platform, a development platform for medical devices and eHealth applications. It measures more than 15 different biometric parameters, helping users to develop eHealth applications on top as well as add sensors to build new medical devices.
This is just the tip of iceberg for developers. Some of the sensors and applications users can apply with the MySignals platform include temperature, glucometer, sleep qualities such as snoring, gunshot residue (GSR), ECG, EEG, EMG, blood pressure, heart rate, airflow, body position, weight, and more.
Data gathered by MySignals is encrypted and sent to the developer’s private account at the Libelium Cloud. Of course, developers can use their own Cloud for storage. Real-time data is available through Android and iPhone apps or data can be sent directly to the Cloud via Wi-Fi or a smartphone (BLE).
MySignals offers both a software development platform and a hardware development platform. These are available for application developers who do not want to cope with hardware issues but just use a quick prototyping platform for medical and eHealth applications and hardware developers, researchers, and makers who want to have complete access to the PCB and electronics.
Until Next Time
As mentioned, and reiterated numerous times, selecting these award winners is a more than daunting task in light of all the great nominations. As opportunities for greater innovation and unique applications present themselves, the task of judging greatness will become ever more difficult. That’s okay, that’s what we are here for: innovation, imagination, and a glimpse at greatness. ~MD
Mat Dirjish is the Executive Editor of Sensors magazine. Before coming on board, he covered the test and measurement and embedded systems market for Electronic Products Magazine, after which he spent thirteen years covering the electronic components market for EE Product News and Electronic Design magazines. He also has an extensive background in high-end audio/video design, modification, servicing, and installation.