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Motion Sensors: Going Far Beyond Just Counting Steps

Sensors have surpassed merely, well...sensing. This blog post looks at current trends in the sensor market and how some applications are taking an AI-empowered departure.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Growth in the sensor market has been fueled by the ever-evolving requirements of the IoT and its momentum of “smart everything”. As demand increases for more and more devices to become smart--for consumers as well as industrial applications--the need for sensors moves with it.

As the number of sensors has increased, we see a corollary increase in the sophistication of their role. Sensors have always collected data, especially in the areas of wearables (fitness trackers, health monitors), security (motion sensors and cameras), and manufacturing (industrial automation). Now they are also used in new categories of devices that analyze and react to the collected data, using AI (artificial intelligence) to make decisions without additional human input. Such applications include robotics, AR/VR, autonomous vehicles and medical treatment devices.

This innovation in the role of sensors beyond mere data tracking has turned what were once market trends in sensor development into new product requirements.

  • Miniaturization: An ever-present trend since computers went from room-scale to desk-scale, we strive to have our devices do more while taking up less space. And, as devices get smaller, so must their sensors and other components.
  • Lower power consumption: Naturally, devices that continuously need recharging will not be as popular as those that operate longer between charges. Since the power needs of each component factor into that of the overall device, low-power sensors are key.
  • Consistency and accuracy in extreme temperatures and humidity: Consumers just want their devices to work, no matter the conditions. And industrial temperature requirements (moving from C-temp into the I-temp range of -40 to 85°C) provide a different environmental challenge, but the same need for reliability of performance. Sensors and their algorithms will need to account for how performance is impacted by environmental conditions.
  • Elegant and powerful software tying it all together: This is the most critical piece of the puzzle. Sensors alone can’t deliver the goods without powerful sensor fusion to elegantly tie them all together and enhance their capabilities. The right sensor fusion software gives products the real-world data they need to enhance AI decision making and become a leader in their category.

When your application needs sensors that deliver so much more than tracking, increased sophistication brings increased complexity across the board. You risk losing a lot of time (and resources) choosing and testing sensors, not to mention the time in developing sensor fusion technology if you try to go it alone. And, after all that, you’re still at risk of failure when actually deploying your product. That’s why we published a guide to selecting the right sensor vendor to help you efficiently evaluate your options and choose the ones that free up your development team to focus on the important things--your new product features and roadmap.

It’s also why we develop sensor products and software with an eye on tomorrow and beyond. Our R&D team constantly assesses our sensors for enhancements backed by data gathered through our rigorous proprietary testing systems. Our engineers are focused on the market, anticipating the next sensor innovations that our customers will need to stay ahead of the curve.

Are you ready to talk about next-level sensors? Contact us today.