Future Electronics – New potential for electronics products to sense real-world phenomena with introduction of more intelligent sensors

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Alex Watson
EMEA Business Development Manager, Sensors
Future Electronics

As a global broadline distributor supporting manufacturers in every sector of industry, Future Electronics has the privilege of serving customers which are generating the fast growth we see today in demand for smart and connected products. And the company hears a clear message from its customers: that OEMs are succeeding in adding or extracting more value from existing products or applications by equipping them to collect more data more effectively.

As a result, Future Electronics is seeing sharp increases in demand for the components that enable this data to be gathered, interpreted, used and shared – demand which is reflected by the choice of Intelligent Sensing as the theme for this issue of FTM.

Intelligence in sensing implies integration of logic capabilities, firmware and algorithms into the sensor device to provide a ready-to-use output, rather than a raw voltage or capacitance which requires compensation, linearisation and conversion.

Motion sensors from STMicroelectronics, for instance, combine a MEMS sensing element with digital circuitry to provide linearised orientation and acceleration measurements. Examples include the LIS2MDL, featured on page 15 and the ISM330DLC, on page 20. And a ROHM Semiconductor MEMS accelerometer, the KX126-1063, on page 18, includes the intelligence required to implement complete user-interface functions, such as tap and double-tap detection.

Integration is a key feature of sensors used in building-automation applications. In fact, OEMs which manufacture products for lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security and safety all have a stake in the future of intelligent sensing in homes, offices and factories. These OEMs face the choice of whether to collaborate or compete to be one of the top suppliers of smart building data. To help them add more value to their product designs, new sensors are becoming ever easier to use. The TSYS temperature sensors from TE Connectivity, on page 17, the SCD30 air-quality sensor from Sensirion, on page 14 and the MP23AB01DH audio sensor from ST, on page 13, are all examples of intelligent sensors which may be easily integrated into the next generation of building-automation systems.

In many of the intelligent devices featured in this FTM, embedded firmware and advanced processing capabilities simplify the functions of sensor data processing and analytics and help to reduce the OEM’s time to market. Today’s integrated sensors quickly collect, analyse and transfer information to reduce the burden on the host microcontroller or applications processor, thereby saving cost, and reducing power consumption and latency.

This means that it is a good time for design engineers to be exploring the capabilities of sensor components and extending their use of them, and as always, the technical experts at Future Electronics are on hand to help with this.