The Embedded Technology 2012 trade show held recently in Yokohama, Japan, focused on five smart technologies: energy, healthcare, agriculture, automotive, and transportation systems, as well as mobile and cloud computing.
The show floor bristled with sensors that can go into virtually anywhere, from shoes and cars to the water standing in rice fields.
Anticipating a world of ubiquitous sensors and connected networks, vendors demonstrated solutions that addressed such fundamental questions as:
How will new sensors be powered?
How do we build systems that can handle multiple sensors in parallel?
How quickly can we design and tune different analog front-end circuits specific to each type of sensor?
What protocols are necessary for sensors to communicate among themselves?
And, at what frequency range can sensors be wirelessly connected?
Below are a dozen examples of the devices, embedded systems, and applications that are making sensors ubiquitous. Click on the photo to start the slideshow.
Murata Manufacturing showed off a running shoe embedded with clear piezo film devices and a Bluetooth smart module. Five small patches of piezo film placed on the sole can detect friction and foot movement inside the "smart" shoe, allowing it to measure and help regulate the userís walking or running habits.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us itís probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps itís the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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