Interview with Brian Wellhouse, TTI Supplier Marketing Manager for sensor products
TTI Specialists attended and exhibited at the recent Sensors Expo and Conference in San Jose, California. The three-day industry event focused exclusively on sensors and sensor-integrated systems, a rapidly growing market segment. The Sensor Expo is the leading event in North America for examining solutions to present challenges and exploring sensing technologies driving tomorrow’s solutions. MarketEYE sat down with Brian Wellhouse to get his key insights from the show.
MarketEYE: What was your overall impression of the 2016 show?
Wellhouse: Sensors are a leading growth market in the electronic components industry, so I expected the show to be well attended and it didn’t disappoint. It took some visitors two hours to get through the line before entering the expo floor. Engineers from a broad range of OEMs walked around looking for the latest sensor technologies. I’m glad TTI expanded our footprint at this show – we had more room for demonstrations and our booth was full of activity during show hours. Of course, the sensors we demonstrated drew great interest, but the fact that we gave away six DJI Phantom V2.0 Quadcoptor drones created a stir as well.
MarketEYE: What were the key trends and buzzwords at the show?
Wellhouse: This year the focus seemed to be on sensor efficiency and accuracy versus groundbreaking technology. Of course there was a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), but I also found that engineers are looking for simple solutions that improve the performance of their applications. They are also looking for sensors that have low power consumption – those that run on limited battery power are in high demand. Sensors that provide more precise detection and measurement of temperature, pressure and motion are popular.
Beyond those overall trends, three sensor technologies generated significant buzz: Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), 9-axis motion sensors and water and air flow sensors.
Miniaturization is a trend across the electronics market and MEMS is the realization of that for sensors. Also called microsensors, MEMS are essentially a tiny die or chip embodied in the sensor itself and can feature nearly every possible sensing modality including temperature, pressure, inertial forces, magnetic fields, radiation, etc. Remarkably, the latest micro technology is proving to outperform its macroscale counterparts.
Two of the hottest consumer electronics products today are drones and wearable activity trackers. Those innovations are driving the need for 9-axis motion sensors. These inertial motion sensors include a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis magnetometer. The gyroscope and accelerometer do a great job of tracking short term movements. The addition of the magnetometer provides extra magnetic field information that compensates for small changes over time, allowing the sensor to more accurately track changes in position and orientation. These sensors can be used to add stability to drones or improve the tracking of activity in wearables.
Water and air flow sensors are also demonstrating improved accuracy. Applications for these sensors include city utilities that want to more accurately measure water consumption and in the medical space, they are used for devices that require air pressure or air pumping measurement.
MarketEYE: What technologies did TTI feature at the show?
Wellhouse: TTI featured three premier manufacturers in our booth: Honeywell, TE Connectivity and Amphenol.
Honeywell highlighted its PX3 pressure transducer. While not necessarily new technology, this transducer is very popular because of its low cost and reliability. Used primarily for HVAC applications, these sensors have a very small error margin, which promotes system uptime and efficiency.
TE Connectivity featured demo boards for testing combination sensors. Visitors were able to test two dual-duty sensors in real time:
- HTU21D, which provides digital outputs for humidity and temperature in Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) formats. These low power sensors are designed for high volume and cost sensitive applications with tight space constraints.
- MS5637, which is an ultra-compact micro sensor that measures barometric pressure and temperature. It is optimized for applications in Smart-phones and Tablet PCs.
Amphenol used an Arduino platform to demo their sensors. Arduino is a cutting-edge microcontroller board that allows you to test multiple sensors in an easy-to-use plug-and-play format. Amphenol focused on three sensors at the show:
- The new T6700 series is a miniature CO2 sensor that has accuracy and reliability of many larger sensors. The new small size allows OEMs to integrate in to smaller enclosures and equipment and uses significantly less power than many other devices on the market.
- The SMART dust sensor detects the dust particle concentration in air by using optical sensing method. Primary applications for this are in HVAC, air quality monitoring and fire detection.
- The T9602 sensor offers the most advanced and cost effective humidity and temperature sensing solution for virtually any type of application.
MarketEYE: Anything other insights you’d like to share?
Wellhouse: No, but we were pretty proud about another recognition. An EE Times reader and show attendee commented that TTI had the “Best Swag” for the digital calipers we gave to visitors. Those were definitely a hit!