3 New Sensors Feed High-accuracy Information to Smart Devices
From emissions monitoring to waste management, these sensors connect designers with new information streams.
A bevy of newly released sensors is giving designers access to new and improved information sources. These sensors can accomplish a variety of measurements and will play a critical role in proliferating smart technology.
Adhoc Networks' "worlds smallest smart waste sensor". Image courtesy of Adhoc Networks
This article examines three of the newly released sensors, including pressure, image, and waste-level sensing devices. In addition to reviewing the key specs for each device, we'll discuss the target applications to give readers a sense of where they may see these new sensors and the benefits that they could provide.
Accurate PCB-less Pressure Sensors
Adding to its portfolio of pressure sensors, Melexis recently announced the MLX90823 and MLX90825 relative pressure sensors. Both sensors are PCB-less and factory-calibrated, giving designers a head start when incorporating the sensors into their own products. Furthermore, Melexis reports an accuracy of +/- 0.5% over the sensor’s lifetime.
Melexis has identified several automotive applications that may benefit from the new sensor, including fuel vapor detection, exhaust gas recirculation, and several others intended to make ICE-powered vehicles greener.
Functional block diagram of the MLX90825. Image used courtesy of Melexis
The two sensors can operate in either gauge (relative to atmospheric pressure) or differential mode, provide pressure measurements from 0.1 to 1.5 bar, and operate from -40°C to 160°C. The MLX90823 (datasheet linked) offers analog output from 0.5–4.5 V, while the MLX90825 (datasheet linked) offers digital output using the SENT protocol and up to 12-bit data resolution. The latter also offers an optional input for NTC temperature sensors.
Low-light Vision With SPAD Sensors
In the world of image sensors, Canon is leveraging Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensors to achieve low-light imaging with the MS-500 interchangeable lens camera. SPAD sensors, compared to traditional CMOS image sensors, can effectively amplify and count individual photons, giving them extremely high low-light performance and removing the impact of electric noise on the final image.
Canon’s SPAD sensor achieves electron multiplication due to the avalanche effect, reducing the impacts of noise and providing good low-light performance. Image used courtesy of Canon
The improved low-light performance of the MS-500 could prove beneficial in many applications, such as security or nighttime seaport monitoring. The SPAD sensor offers a 3.2-megapixel resolution and can output full-color images with minimal external illumination.
Smart Waste Management
On the topic of optics, Adhoc Networks recently announced its smart waste sensor dubbed OSCAR for improved waste management services. OSCAR stands to replace the company’s previous sensor PHIL, which has seen over 1,000 units deployed since its release in 2021.
The OSCAR sensor leverages an optical sensor to accomplish distance measurement. This distance measurement, when taken from the lid of a waste container, gives new data insights to enable smart infrastructure. The sensor can measure distances up to 4 meters with a cone angle of 27 degrees.
adhoc integrated the OSCAR sensor into a peanut dispenser, allowing for real-time monitoring of the container’s fill level. Image used courtesy of Adhoc Networks
OSCAR’s primary application is to reduce the number of unnecessary waste pickups by providing new data on the fill levels of waste containers, reducing the carbon footprint of local infrastructure. Due to its small size, however, the sensor can be readily deployed in a variety of applications where accurate container measurements are needed.
Getting the Most From Electronics
While each of the sensors in this article serves a different niche purpose, they all indicate a broader trend toward a smarter future. The PCB-less pressure sensors provide highly accurate information for improving vehicle performance and emissions, while the SPAD and waste-level sensors could both be used to extend the reach of smart electronics.
While they may not draw as many eyes as futuristic eyeglasses or IoT launches into space, sensor technology plays a critical role in enabling electronics to perform in everyday, functional use cases. As such, the advances made by Melexis, Canon, and adhoc bring designers one step closer to developing the next generation of smart devices.