Sensors everywhere and in everything

Sensors: Indispensable everywhere and in everything

By Claire Marchand

Industrial automation, hazardous substance detection, entertainment, medical environment, security systems, lighting, cars all have something in common: sensors inside. The new trend in microsensors that can be fitted into portable devices opens up a world of possibilities.

Outdoor infrared motion detection sensor Outdoor infrared motion detection sensor

The March edition of e-tech focuses on sensors and safety. Sensors are becoming more complex, providing support for various modes of operation and interfacing and are used in a wide variety of devices to make life safer and easier.

The introduction of automation and robots has made the workplace safer. Constant technological advances have increased the reliability of all sensors that support the various modes of operation and man-machine interface, thus improving greatly the safety of those who work in an industrial environment.

But the safety provided by sensors is not limited to industry. They can detect movement, the presence of humans, objects and hazardous substances and can be used in farming and mining, in the medical field, in rescue operations and in any potentially dangerous environment.

Sensor technology plays a major role in residential and commercial areas. Motion detectors, alarm systems, multimedia, home appliances, lighting, cars, elevators, escalators and automatic doors are some of the applications in which sensors play an indispensable role in ensuring safety. 

Miniaturization is a growing trend. While MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) have been used for a number of years in computers, medical devices and cars, they are now increasingly being fitted into portable devices such as smart phones and tablets, opening up a new world of possibilities.

Many IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Subcommittees) have been developing International Standards for sensors and for the devices and equipment that use them. The standards ensure that the performance and quality of sensors improve constantly, allowing them to fulfil more tasks more efficiently and with greater safety.

Outdoor infrared motion detection sensor Outdoor infrared motion detection sensor
MEMS digital compass module (Photo: STMicroelectronics) MEMS digital compass module (Photo: STMicroelectronics)
claire_marchand Claire Marchand, Managing Editor e-tech