TE’s New Multi-Sensor Module Geared to Push Smart Devices to Market FasterNovember 06, 2019 by Gary Elinoff
The pre-engineered module aims to save developers the effort of finding and deploying separate sensing solutions.
TE Connectivity has unveiled the AmbiMate MS4 multi-sensor module, which incorporates up to seven of the most in-demand sensors employed in smart building applications: it senses and measures temperature, humidity, passive infrared, ambient light, voice activation, volatile organic compounds (VOC), and carbon dioxide.
This convenient pre-engineered module aims to save developers the effort of finding and deploying separate sensing solutions.
The AmbiMate MS4 multi-sensor module is designed for smart building applications. Image from TE Connectivity
Jonathan Catchpole, a system architect at TE Connectivity’s industrial business, explains that “Engineers face the challenges of looming deadlines, unforeseen technical obstacles, and high expectations. We designed the AmbiMate sensor module as the best possible set of sensors for intelligent buildings so that engineers can focus their efforts on the aspects of their project that set their product apart from the competition.”
Functional block diagram for the MS4. Image source from TE Connectivity
With this pre-engineered module, engineers can spend less time researching and implementing a number of different sensors, which in turn can help them get products to market faster.
The Applications the MS4 Series
Members of the new MS4 series can simplify designs in a number of spaces including:
- Building automation
- Indoor lighting
- Connected home
- Energy management
- Air quality
- Workspace comfort
- Zonal environmental controls
Because the MS4 series features one footprint, a compact design, and multiple attach methods, designers have the flexibility to use the sensor module in a host of applications.
TE Connectivity makes different versions of the AmbiMate available for different use cases.
AmbiMate MS4 multi-sensor module is designed for easy assembly into common building alert casings. Image from TE Connectivity
The basic version of the module includes sensing capability for:
- Temperature: 5 to 50°C with an accuracy of ± 1°C
- Humidity: 5 to 95% relative humidity with 3% accuracy
- Passive infrared (for motion detection)
- Ambient light
Note: For temperature, humidity, and ambient light, the acquisition rate is specified at 1 second.
Other versions include the following capabilities:
- Voice activation: less than 0.5 seconds
- Volatile organic compound (VOC): 1-minute acquisition for 0–1187ppb
- Carbon dioxide: 60-second acquisition for 400–8192ppm
To simplify design considerations, regardless of which sensors the designer opts for, all versions of the MS4 employ the same PCB footprints for easy mounting. The devices operate at a power supply voltage 3.3 volts. They communicate using an I2C interface with a maximum rate of 100 kBaud.
As mentioned before, all members of this series sense temperature, humidity, and infrared and ambient light. The chart listed below specifies which parts also sense volatile organics, CO2, and sound.
Compatibility With Raspberry Pi or Arduino
Electronics developers can plug an AmbiMate module directly into host controllers such as the ubiquitous Raspberry Pi or Arduino devices.
TE claims that developers will then be able to start collecting data within 30 minutes with the help of available TE software.
Availability as a PCBA or Developer Kit
For bulk purchases of AmbiMate, TE recommends that designers choose a standalone printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).
The modules are also available as a developer kit, which includes multiple attachments to avail OEMs the flexibility to effect needed mechanical fit and connection with their chosen product housing.
Around the Industry
Engineers can choose from a number of smart home sensors available today. Some come ready mounted and ready for installation while others are designed to work as part of a larger system.
Nexia offers the Aeotec 6-in-1 multisensor, which detects motion, temperature, light, humidity, and UV.
Another option is Pollution Click from Mikroe, a subsystem designed to detect dangerous gasses such as benzene, formaldehyde, alcohol, and toluene.
Do you consider sensor research and implementation a time-consuming part of your design process? Share your experiences in the comments below.