Blowin' in the Wind
This novel anemometer doesn't promise something for nothing—but it does come close. It scavenges energy from the very wind it is measuring and provides its own power for data transmission from a self-contained generator.
The anemometer is based on a conventional 3-cup design, with the cups positioned several inches above the body of the device to minimize the aerodynamic influence of the housing. Internal to the ane-mometer is a revolutionary generator design that has zero drag and no magnetic cogging on the cups. This allows the cups to begin turning at wind speeds <2 mph. Also in the generator body is electronic circuitry that calculates wind velocity based on the cups' rotational speed, and wirelessly transmits the data back to the base station, up to 200 ft. distant. The wireless feature ensures that even a direct lightning strike to the sensor will not cause damage to follow-on equipment.
The base station consists of a 916 MHz receiver and decoding electronics. Decoder output consists of pulses for connecting to existing data loggers, an RS-232 port for connection to serial-based devices, and an LCD display for convenient local readout. Wind direction is optionally available. Systems will be available in Q3 of 2006. Markets include marine and meteorological applications and wind power projects. (www.sensorsmag.com/0906/RDWind)
When someone with a static charge buildup touches an electronic device the damages to the IC are not difficult to detect. It's the secondary ESD effects that are hard to troubleshoot because they might not hit the IC. At least not right away. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Rolla (www.emclab.umr.edu) have developed a scanning probe that can pinpoint the affected area on a PCB. (www.sensorsmag.com/0906/RDESD)
Can You Stomach This?
The SmartPill GI Monitoring System has received a 510(k) release from the FDA. The system consists of a capsule and a small data receiver. When the capsule is swallowed, encased sensors monitor gastric pressure, pH, and emptying time; combined small and large bowel transit time; and total transit time. The system is designed to diagnose and monitor the slow gastric emptying common in diabetics and those with Parkinson's disease. (www.sensorsmag.com/0906/RDPil)
CogniScent has developed a DNA-based sensing material that can detect, identify, and discriminate among a large number of airborne compounds in ~2 s. ScenTraK, a lightweight, handheld unit, uses an optoelectronic sensor array; its output drives software algorithms trained to ID specific olfactory patterns. It can detect target odors at the ppb and ppt levels, identify volatile compounds at a range of concentrations, and ignore background interferents. Neither sample preparation time nor special training is required; markets include security, medical, and industrial. (www.sensorsmag.com/0906/RDGas)
Pump It Up
Diabetes has been declared an epidemic by the World Health Organization. Despite many recent medical advances, the disease remains difficult to manage. One encouraging development is that Cambridge Consultants has devised a way based on wireless Near Field Communication to integrate glucometers and insulin pumps.
The handheld glucometer records the blood sugar reading and, depending on the level, might recommend a bolus dose of insulin. If the patient accepts the dose, he or she delivers the drug by swiping the glucometer against the pump, even if it's worn beneath clothing. Keeping the patient in the loop enhances confidence and security, and allows dosage calculations in accordance with the user's activities.
Additional benefits include improved dosing accuracy, data logging for compliance monitoring, and a reduction in the amount of handling or disturbing the pump.
The underlying technology could find use as well for pain relief, asthma and respiratory care, gastric electrical stimulation therapy, and treatments for congestive heart failure or urinary urge incontinence. (www.sensorsmag.com/0906/RDPump)