Beginning in 1999, Sensors has used the Best of Sensors Expo Award to recognize those new products, on display at Sensors Expo, that we consider the most interesting and noteworthy. And over the years we've seen some jaw-droppingly cool things. On Tuesday of this week—aided and abetted by Ed Ramsden, one of my fellow judges—I delivered this year's awards to their lucky recipients. Ready to hear what won? Read on.
The Wow! Factor
This year, we recognized eleven products in four general categories: sensors, data acquisition, communications and networking, and control. I'll give you the Gold award winners first:
Augusta Systems Inc. won a Gold award for its SensorBridge v2.0 suite of software components designed to ease the integration of sensor data into existing enterprise systems. The judges (myself, Ed Ramsden from Maxim Integrated Products, and Deb Lickness from John Deere) liked that it was both sensor- and network-agnostic, and allows for the creation of a network of networks using a single development environment.
MicroStrain Inc. won a Gold award for its ESG-Link energy harvesting wireless strain transmitter. The device is used to measure the load experienced by a helicopter's pitch link, the mechanical linkage that manages the pitch of the rotor blades. A piezoelectric film harvests the vibration energy to power the device indefinitely and a wireless transmitter sends the data for analysis. Steve Arms, the founder of the company, says that MicroStrain successfully flew the system on a Bell helicopter in March.
Solidica Inc. won a Gold award for its SOLO Smart Armor sensor system that integrates a sensor system into armor products. The extremely robust system wirelessly transmits information on a soldier's or vehicle's location, impact to the armor, and vital signs. The judges all liked that this was an innovative approach to systems engineering and designed for a specific (and very challenging) application. Oh yes. When I said that the sensor system is integrated into the armor? I meant that it's literally integrated into the armor through the company's ultrasonic consolidation process.
So how about our four Silver award winners?
Analog Devices Inc. won a Silver award for its ADIS16350 iSensor inertial measurement unit that combines three MEMS gyros, three MEMS accelerometers, and a temperature sensor in a 23 by 23 by 23 mm package, providing a complete motion sensing package for lower-cost applications.
Arch Rock Corp. won a Silver award for its Primer Pack/IP turnkey wireless sensor networking system that speaks IP natively, all the way out to the sensor nodes. As Ed Ramsden observed, "The system as a whole looks like it provides one-stop shopping to get wireless sensors integrated to enterprise data systems."
OZ Optics Ltd. won a Silver Award for its Foresight Series of fiber-optic distributed strain and temperature sensors. The sensors use standard optical telecommunications fiber and are designed to give high-resolution and accurate strain and temperature monitoring over long distances. Applicable to oil and gas pipelines, bridges, dams, power lines, and security fences, the sensors can detect corrosion, buckling, and micro-cracking in large structures.
Pervasa Inc. won a Silver award for its Atlas Model 00ACMZB, a generic hardware/software interface for sensor-enterprise integration. The system provides a complete software representation of the sensor hardware's capability, for any kind of sensor, allowing you to use software to access and implement the sensor's functionality in other applications.
Finally, I'll give you our Bronze award winners:
Astyx Inc. won a Bronze award for its Model 3013 microwave proximity sensor. This device is unique in its ability to measure the proximity of composite materials with 25 µm resolution. While its applications may be limited, its capabilities are extraordinary.
Crossbow Technology Inc. won for its Imote2 next-generation wireless sensor networking node targeted at applications that require greater computing power, such as vibration monitoring, digital imaging, and seismic- and acoustic-based signal processing.
Endevco Corp. won a Bronze award for its Model 71 accelerometer—a tiny high-shock accelerometer micromachined from a single piece of silicon and incorporating both the inertial mass and Wheatstone bridge circuit. Its size and its low mass give the sensor the ability to survive high-frequency shock pulses that can shatter the seismic systems of lower-resonance accelerometers.
And, finally, Kaman Measuring Systems won a Bronze award for its KD-2306 noncontact linear displacement sensor for conductive targets. The sensor has resolution down to 10 nm. The combination of resolution and speed (10 nm/50 kHz) for an inductive probe is impressive.
I do have one more product to mention, and that's Millennial Net's MeshScape 5424 wireless thermostat. This is designed for easy retrofitting of existing HVAC infrastructures and connects to existing HVAC wiring to harvest power and to control the HVAC unit. It works with the company's Wi-EMS energy management system to provide Web-based remote monitoring, control, and maintenance of building environments. We all loved the sheer utility of this device.
Why I Love Attending Sensors Expo
The best part of the Best of Sensors Expo Awards program (for me at least) is that I get to learn about all these extraordinary creations. Engineering combines a hefty dollop of art in with its science, and nowhere is this combination more evident in the elegant, useful, and astounding devices I get to see on the show floor.
I have a request—although I did my best to see what there was to see, I know I missed some gems. If you attended Sensors Expo this week and saw something that knocked your socks off, please scroll on down to the bottom of the page and post a comment to let me know what it was.