New and Notable Product Design 28118

April 4, 2005

4 Min Read
New and Notable Product Design

Biometric (fingerprint), CMOS imaging, infrared (IR), piezoelectric, and electromagnetic flow sensors provide unique product functionality. Here are five examples.


iRobot Roomba Discovery Robotic Floorvac

( Sensors in this robotic vacuum cleaner detect obstruction in its path and identify excessively dirty areas. Four pairs of IR sensors always monitor the floor to detect steps or cliffs. Another infrared pair looks for walls and automatically adjusts the robot's distance from the wall creating a Virtual Wall. Two piezoelectric disks in the dirt path detect debris and adjust the cleaning pattern accordingly. Engineers designed multiple functions for the IR detector on top of the Roomba to raise the lens on the front of the bumper and collect IR data from the Virtual Wall, Home Base charging unit, and remote.


Lexar Media JumpDrive TouchGuard USB Flash Drive

( Carry all your valuable data with you and keep it secure since only your fingerprint can access it. Lexar Media engineers chose Fujitsu Microelectronics America's MBF310 fingerprint sensor for the TouchGuard drive, which holds up to 256 Mbyte of data. The user's finger swept over the integrated sensor provides a forensic-quality 500 dpi, 8-bit grayscale image, and eliminates the need for passwords. The data is synchronized with the CPU through 2 Kbyte of FIFO memory, providing frame sweep rates of 20 cm/sec (8 inches/sec). For more information on Fujitsu's fingerprint sensor, go to


Memory Experts International Outbacker

( The Outbacker is a USB 2.0 portable 20 Gbyte or 40 Gbyte hard-disk drive (HDD) that uses biometric sensing for secure data access. Engineers chose Upek's CMOS active capacitive pixel-sensing fingerprint sensor. Upek's TouchStrip product is housed in a 20.4 × 27 × 3.5 mm package and has an acquisition speed of 15 frames/sec. Software controls the fingerprint image acquisition, while minimizing sensitivity to environmental conditions or type of skin. Other software algorithms extract fingerprint data and match live fingerprints with previously stored fingerprint templates. For more information on UPEK's TouchStrip sensor, go to


George Fischer Inc. Signet 2551 Magmeter

( Designed for conductive fluid applications containing particles, solids and fibers, this electromagnetic flow sensor contains no moving parts. The unit has a dynamic flow range of 0.15 to 33 ft/sec (0.05 to 10 m/sec) with repeatability of ±0.5 percent of reading and linearity of ±1 percent. For ease of connectivity, engineers designed in several options. The 2551 connects to Signet instrumentation via a frequency or digital signal output or directly to programmable logic controllers and other equipment using a 4-20mA output option. To provide corrosion resistance for a wide range of fluids, housing material choices include PVDF (polyvinylidene) or PP (polypropylene).


Gentex SmartBeam Headlamp Control System

( This mirror provides a view in both directions. The basic automatic-dimming rearview mirror uses an electrochromic (EC) gel between two pieces of glass. A forward-facing sensor recognizes low ambient-light levels and the rearward-facing sensor detects glare from approaching vehicles, sending a voltage to the mirror's EC gel in proportion to the amount of glare detected. In addition, a forward-facing CMOS image sensor acquires data from the front of the vehicle to automatically dim the headlamps and return them to high beams. Filtering techniques discern streetlights from vehicle light sources to prevent unnecessary dimming. The unit distinguishes between headlamps and taillights allowing for varied dimming thresholds.

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