Corintech Ltd. - PRODUCT NEWS

The Rise of the Sensors

The concept of IoT has been around for a while, but it is only now starting to gain real mainstream recognition and credibility and is becoming an increasingly attractive development area in the electronics sector. While headlines are still dominated by stories on fridges that talk, watches that listen and thermostats that learn your domestic habits, one area of IoT technology that is already achieving real commercial impact is in wireless sensors and remote monitoring.

Here IoT thinking is now starting to deliver real world benefits in a huge range of application areas and industries. Indeed, a recent PwC report has highlighted how some of the world's biggest businesses are increasingly turning to IoT sensors to "achieve enhanced process optimisation, and efficiencies".

Remote sensing is not a new technique, but as wireless remote monitoring devices improve in reliability and functionality they are increasingly being used to meet quality standards and legal requirements in a variety of industries. In fields as diverse as pharmaceuticals, IT, and the food and beverage industry, new applications are being found for sensors all the time. For example, the FilesThruTheAir WiFi temperature sensors, a product that neatly sits in the centre of the growing IoT market, are already monitoring vaccines, lab experiments and food storage, with a wealth of
other applications in the pipeline.

The fact that increasingly these devices can be combined with Cloud-based monitoring services is a major driver of this growth, as companies can increase the range and efficacy of their monitoring while actually achieving significant cost savings.

However, as the use of sensing technology continues to grow, and applications become more diverse and more demanding, the challenge of designing sensors increases. Rather than simply worrying about measurement accuracy and calibration, the ecosystem in which remote sensors are now operating poses its own new challenges to designers.
With the rise of remote monitoring devices, designers have to find new ways of adding additional capabilities to these products while staying within very tight power budgets. And sensors measuring temperature and humidity are no exception, as they are now required to run on far less power than previous designs. By reducing the overall power consumption, Corintech's FilesThruTheAir WiFi sensors are designed to run on a fully rechargeable battery power with up to six months battery life per charge.

As a result, the sensors can be used even in the most remote environment for an extended period of time, as the need for battery charging has been reduced to a new minimum. Ultimately this allows users to take advantage of Internet of Things capabilities in any environment with a WiFi connection as the sensors data is uploaded automatically to the connected Cloud platform, which can be accessed from any mobile device. Yet despite the benefits of Cloud computing, which is becoming an integral part of remote sensor monitoring, the issues prominent in this area need to be taken into account.

One of the key challenges when designing remote monitoring devices is the wireless connectivity. Using Wi-Fi technology is the obvious way forward as the two most common benefits of wireless communication are its mobility and the access to real-time data.
However, the complexities of wireless remote monitoring devices still brings its own issues that engineers and project managers need to overcome and not just the security of the data transmitted from them. The main focus though has to be on the security and reliability of the data being transmitted and the rise of wireless communications in the sensor space immediately raises specific challenges.

Looking at the data security aspect, this ongoing hot topic has found its way into the headlines again, as secure Cloud storage solutions are a very sensitive subject. The security of sensitive data being transferred over Wi-Fi is a key concern to the product development teams. At this point in time, the regulations are not keeping up with technology so data protection remains a discussion topic for the electronics and IT industries. Yet on the flip side, all the barriers put in place by the regulators can be a limit on innovation and the hoops that sensor designers have to jump through can, if not carefully managed, significantly reduce the speed at which pioneering products will get to market.

Ultimately, this means that the challenge for today's sensor design teams is to deliver state of the art technology, that meets all low-power criteria, provides totally secure module-to base-communication at an attractive price. Challenging maybe but not impossible, if the key features of the device are clearly defined and the design focus is geared towards delivering cutting edge technology in those areas.

FilesThruTheAir™ is a trademark of Corintech Ltd.

For more information, please contact :-

Corintech Ltd.
+44(0) 1425 651108

April 2014

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