I was recently interviewed by a European research company that wanted to know what the greatest trends and innovations are in sensor technology. The interviewer asked questions like, what are the hottest artificial-intelligence sensors? what autonomous-vehicle sensors are in the most demand? and what sensors are medical sensors? The answer is that all sensors are hot items.
It may come as a disappointing surprise that there are no specific artificial intelligence sensors or autonomous vehicle sensors. There are, however, sensors used within those and every other application to power our increasingly connected world.
It would be difficult to contend otherwise that the most popular current tech topics are the IoT and its spinoffs (IIoT, Industry 4.0, edge computing); autonomous vehicles and its related tech, such as LiDAR, ADAS; artificial intelligence with deep learning, neural networks, and machine learning; embedded systems with cloud computing and big data; and robotics. Equally obvious, they are all related via their dependence upon each other to greater or lesser degrees. And each one employs a considerable number of sensors.
Sensors like resistors, capacitors, and inductors are staple items in almost every electronic device. With the escalation of new and innovative applications, the demand for components also escalates. But now, sensors are in the greatest demand. Why? Because of the rise of applications that involve human interaction with electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, kiosks, etc. – applications where electronic devices such as autonomous vehicles and robots interact and need to be cognizant of their surrounding environments, and any application that requires measurement of any conceivable parameter, for example pressure, temperature, distance, and motion, among others.
The rise of autonomous vehicles, for example, has created a great demand for the regular regimen of related sensors like temperature, pressure, level, and acceleration. This poses an even greater demand for highly accurate image sensors so the vehicle can accurately see the people and things they should avoid. Touch sensors are also in demand within cars, acting as the interface between human and machine.
Robotic applications also require all the basic sensors, plus image and touch sensors, and in varying quantities depending on the design. Security applications add a big demand for fingerprint, iris scan, biosensors, and an array of image sensors.
In brief, we have a finite number of measurable parameters, which translates into a finite number of sensor types. However, the innovative spirit can create an infinite variety of applications requiring one type sensor for all. Think of it in the simplest terms: pressure sensors used in a sophisticated vehicle could also be used in a home heating design, and vice versa.
That’s a good way of describing what one will experience at Sensors Expo & Conference. Yes, the latest sensors and related technologies will be on display, but, equally important, the educational sessions, hands-on workshops, and experts onsite will demonstrate the latest applications for these components. Perhaps even more important, they will inspire the next wave of creative and innovative applications, which will demand even more sensors.