“The sensors that engineers envision today will evolve to help create new and refined ideas for future applications.”

—Brad Walters, Monnit Founder and CEO

In the June 2021 issue of Sensor Technology Magazine, Brad Walters took the opportunity to answer questions about sensors and tell businesses what the future looks like for the Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

  • Can sensors really help eliminate bedbugs and improve banana ripening?
  • What are some common and uncommon sensor applications?
  • What do sensors need to have so they can solve critical business challenges in a variety of industries?
  • Where does security come into play for sensors to safeguard data throughout its journey?
  • What does the future hold for sensors, and what will they look like and do?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

SENSORS MAKE THE IOT WORK FOR YOU

You could make a case that sensors are the essential (and often overlooked) variable in the IoT equation. To make the IoT work, you need to sense something.

Yes, you need the multiplying effect of connectivity from a sensor to a gateway to the cloud for data analytics. But it’s the sensing, the measuring, the monitoring that makes industry applications intelligent and innovative. Sensors make the IoT come alive for business.

Before we used the term — IoT — in everyday conversation, we talked about embedded systems or machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and put them to work in many industries. It’s now the era of Industry 4.0, where we see amazing automation using ongoing IoT advancements for rapid data processing and analytics.

This promising revolution supports many new IoT sensor applications for businesses ready to reap the combined benefits of both the ubiquitous IoT and the Industrial IoT (IIoT). The increasing popularity of Industry 4.0 and IIoT applications and the rising demand for automation and robotics are driving exponential growth in the sensors marketplace.

BUT NOT JUST ANY SENSOR WILL DO

The sensors making the most significant impact are built on agile platforms and are effective in multiple environments — enterprise, commercial, and industrial. When you have a versatile sensor platform, you have global interoperability. With a long-range, multi-frequency radio and a flexible microcontroller, you can quickly deploy a sensor for virtually any industry application.

As digital control systems advance and increase overall proficiency, users demand advancements in sensor reliability, reach, response time, power, survivability, ease of integration, and communication capabilities.

A sensor that’s only running when it must communicate requires the least power. This is how sensors can achieve 10+ years of battery life. Other ways to extend battery life — even for the most power-hungry sensors — is to use the latest battery technology or ambient energy harvesting technologies like solar and piezoelectricity, or even a combination of the two.

Far-reaching wireless range and the Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) can significantly amplify a sensor’s reliability. It’ll have stronger impairment immunity from physical obstructions, external wireless radio frequency systems, and electromagnetic interference (EMI).

A sensor’s physical robustness is critical. Is it flexible enough to be placed in multiple environments, handle many different industrial applications, manage a wide variety of complications, and still gather, store, and send you the critical data you need? Plus, a robust sensor provides the least expensive and best kind of insurance — prevention. Sensors can help prevent problems like facility and product damage or asset downtime. They allow you to detect when a system or machine is starting to fail and the problem is still inexpensive to address.

Read the full article and get Brad Walters’ forecast for the future of sensors here.

sensors of the future