Sign up for updates on our latest news and blog posts

How to Evaluate a Sensor Vendor

Choosing the right sensor from the right provider is essential to developing industry-leading products. Our latest post gives you five criteria to consider when choosing the right vendor for your next application.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

In a rapidly-evolving marketplace, consumer tech manufacturers need to stay on the leading edge of innovation. Choosing the right sensor products from the right vendor could mean the difference between losing market share or becoming the hot “go-to” brand. But how will you know that you’ve made the best choice? Read on for five key criteria for selecting a sensor partner.

5 things to look for when evaluating a sensor technology partner:

Deep expertise in sensors & integration

Sensors are complex, evolve rapidly, and can be tricky in deployment. That means, the longer a company has been developing and shipping sensors for real-world applications, the more time they’ve had to adapt their products and contribute to the evolution of the technology. Choosing a partner with deep device expertise is crucial because they’ve already solved not only the most popular, but also the more obscure sensor challenges, adapting their products to address customer needs.

When evaluating vendors, make sure that they offer the proper support channels. The best component in the world without the proper integration into, or support for, your application is essentially useless. The right partner will know what to look for and anticipates roadblocks before they occur, reducing the risks of sensor deployment and letting you speed your time to market. Be sure to leverage their experience and knowledge as much as possible.

  • Choose a vendor with established expertise and customer support, proven over the course of millions of shipped sensors for real applications, and who proactively solves for technical challenges.

Deep expertise in sensor fusion

Sensor fusion is almost equally a science and an art, and can be extremely challenging to do in-house if your team doesn’t have the right experience. Companies can lose--and have lost --significant R&D time (causing resulting opportunity costs) by trying to get their sensor fusion to work properly. The resources spent on this can derail your production, and ultimately, the risk of failure is high. Attempting DIY sensor fusion will increase costs, slow your time to market, and--perhaps most critically--put your product and brand at risk of bad end-user experiences.

However, the right sensor fusion software provides the right data to take your products from good to great.

  • Look for a sensor partner with deep experience in sensor fusion software so you don’t have to worry about it.

Flexible products that integrate easily with your systems

Look for flexible products that can be configured to your application’s specific needs and integrates easily with your existing systems. The right vendor will offer sensor products that map with each phase of your product development cycle, from streamlined modules for rapid prototyping to ready-to-integrate SiPs (systems-in-package) for full-scale production. Configurable sensors will speed your time to market and free up your dev team to focus on what matters most--adding value to your products.

  • Pick a vendor with flexible products and a willingness to help configure the right tech stack for your application.

A proven record of reliability & market success in your industry

Early on in any relationship, one of the hardest things to measure is reliability. So, how can you tell if a vendor has had market success, which relates directly to their reliability? Look for key indicators like long-term partnerships (both customer and development partners) in the industries that are relevant to your business.

  • Pick a sensor vendor with a reputation for reliability.

Future-proof product innovation

Responding to current sensor needs is good, but your vendor should be in tune with the market, not only anticipating but actually evolving to meet advances in both the technology and industry. By leveraging your vendor’s dedication to innovation, you can realize the new features and functionality that you need to deliver your next-gen products to the market with confidence.

  • Partner with a company that has an R&D team focused on making new technologies for you to use.

Identifying a sensor vendor that meets these qualifications doesn’t just help ensure project reliability, it helps set you up for long-term success. The right partner will evaluate not just your current needs but also your future ones, delivering high-performance products while helping you scale into production.

At Hillcrest Labs, we’ve been hyper-focused on sensors and sensor fusion for more than 15 years, which means we’ve grown up with the industry, and we’ve pretty much seen it all. That helps us understand the complexities of sensor development and deployment.

We work with you to identify the right products and configure them for your application. And should you run into issues, we can help analyze performance logs, replicate issues, identify root causes and provide fixes. Our diverse line includes a product for every phase you’re in, whether you’re evaluating products with a dev kit, prototyping with a module, or integrating our turnkey SiP directly onto your mainboard. Our FSP200 supports sensor agnosticity, so you can work with the sensor of your choice.

Our active R&D team and proprietary testing and evaluation systems let us constantly assess and improve our products. We’re always looking for ways to enable cost-effective alternatives to market challenges.

But don’t just take our word for it; we’ve shipped close to 100 million products, enabling our customers to find their own market success. We’re a long-time partner with Bosch Sensortec, who worked with us to develop our BNO085 IMU. We also have long-term relationships with trusted brands like Samsung, Sharp, and LG.

Are you ready to discuss the specifics of your application? Contact us today.