Sensors Expo 2014, the Show With A Glow

It may sound cliché to say Sensors Expo 2014 was the show with a glow because of all the glowing reviews, but too bad. It’s quite true and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the show’s prime participants. Hal Steele, VP, Global Sales at RFMicron Inc. sums it up perfectly when he says “Response to our smart passive sensing technology was very positive. As a first time exhibitor; we had good traffic and many follow-up opportunities.  This show broadens the exposure of our unique sensing capability to the greater sensor world.” And that was the consensus of almost all those attending, exhibiting, and presenting.

Held at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL, from June 24-to-26 2014, the Sensors Conference and Expo covered nearly every type of sensor, related sensor product and device, and design tools, from software to systems, to cover any application. Simply put, Sensors Expo is the place to see, learn, teach, expand, and grow.

Scott Nelson, Logic PD executive vice president and chief technology officer says, “As a system’s integrator I’ve attended many sensor shows over the years, but this show was unique in that the participants where focused on developing customer solutions not just sensor product features. The show attracted participants that clearly understand their roles and how to collaborate within the Internet of Things ecosystem to meet emerging customer needs.”

In terms of teaching and learning, there was no shortage of opportunities to do both. Pre-conference and show symposiums covered topics ranging from the latest developments in MEMS technologies through the hottest emerging trends surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT).

Sessions also focused on the never ending goal to reduce power consumption to as close to zero as possible as well the ever demanding race for space, making designs as small as humanly feasible. All of which requires the use of sensors.

Each day of the conference, attendees were treated to excellent keynotes delivered by two of the most knowledgeable experts in their chosen fields. On Wednesday morning, June 25, Luigi Gentile Polese, Senior Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Commercial Buildings Research Group, discussed various unique and innovative strategies for building sensing and control. As per Mr. Polese, buildings are responsible for 40% of US energy consumption, and sensing and control technologies are an important element in creating a truly sustainable built environment. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Image Processing Occupancy Sensor (IPOS)” is one example of leveraging embedded systems to create smarter, more reliable, multi-function sensors that open the door to new control strategies for building heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting control. His keynote outlined how cost-effective embedded systems are changing the state-of-the-art of building sensing and control.

Luigi Gentile Polese, Senior Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Commercial Buildings Research Group

Thursday morning, June 26, Dr. Logan Liu, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and President of MoboSense, LLC introduced and described MoboSens technology. This unique paradigm creates socially connected molecular sensing capabilities and pairs it with mobile-cloud interactive computing technology. This in turn enables the use of smart mobile phones, wireless networks, and associated microelectronic liquid sensors to measure invisible chemical contaminants in water and biomolecules in body fluids. Users can then transmit dynamic quantitative sensing information to the cloud for further processing and to establish a citizen participatory environmental water sensing map on the internet.

Dr. Logan Liu, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and President of MoboSense, LLC


Two other highlights were the IPSO IoT Design Challenge and the Best of Sensors Awards. Sensors Expo was proud to host the second year of the IPSO IoT challenge, which receives international entries from companies, governments, university research teams, and individuals.

A competition centered on designs for the Internet of Things (IoT) that use an IP-based technique to connect smart devices and systems, the first place winner of the IPSO challenge 2014 was Centero CenLab’s Portable Internet-Enabled Chemical Analyzer. The design addresses individual healthcare with tools for monitoring patients’ conditions in their homes and when mobile.

Yanzi Networks took second place honors for its IoT Devices and Services. Yanzi’s goal is to connect “millions of users to billions of things in an easy way.”

The U.S. Air Force Discovery Lab came in third for The IPSO challenge with Ripple, described primarily as a scalable medical telemetry system for supporting combat rescue. Ripple also proves to be commercially viable for emergency responders on a daily basis. CLICK HERE for more IPSO Challenge details.

The Best of Sensors Awards, delivered by yours truly, is an annual tradition at Sensors Expo. This was one of the most exciting and fun events, the delivering of the awards that is. Taking part in judging and deciding the final winners was not equally so. There were numerous entries, all notable, viable, and innovative on their own grounds, making the final selections a grueling process at best. But the rewards were well worth the effort. CLICK HERE to learn who won and for what.

A new and interesting (and FUN!) event at the show was the Scavenger Hunt. Wireless sensors were posted at various booths on the show floor that can be detected by attendees’ smartphones. Those who detected the most hotspots won prizes. The event had a positive twofold effect. First, it definitely drove more traffic to exhibitors’ booths and, second, it showed one of infinite applications for wireless sensors. CLICK HERE for more details about what went into this very successful event.

Also a very big and well recived announcement, next year's Sensors Conference & Expo is moving to the west coast. It will be held in Long Beach, California. CLICK HERE and learn more about this feisty move.

Like most trade shows, Sensors Expo hosts numerous exhibitors who demonstrate their latest innovations and how they may fit certain applications. Of course, the goal is to sell these wares and keep the tech world profitable.

And after a long, productive, and happy day on one’s feet, what better way to relax than to down a few with colleagues and new-found friends. ~MD


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