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. It's also a good exercise in trendspotting when the judges review the entries: data acquisition systems are getting faster, more powerful, and smaller; sensors are becoming smaller and more capable; wireless sensor networking is shifting from the show-and-tell phase to focus on larger-scale network implementation, management, and maintenance; and more vendors are concentrating on software to aid the integration of sensor data into the enterprise.
We ask exhibitors to nominate their new products and then we, the judges, assess them based on their timeliness—is the product new? Is it currently commercially available? Has it been released since the last Sensors Expo?—its uniqueness, its potential to change the way people work, and whether the product answers a real need. (For more information, visit the Best of Sensors Expo information page here) This year's team of judges included Melanie Martella, Sensors' Executive Editor, Deb Lickness from John Deere, and long-time friend of Sensors (and Editorial Advisory Board member) Ed Ramsden of Maxim Integrated Products.
Together we sifted through the entries to find our winners and, on Tuesday, June 12, Ed and I walked the show floor delivering the awards to the lucky recipients. For 2007, we recognized eleven products in four general categories: sensors, data acquisition, communications and networking, and control.
Gold Award Winners
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 liked that it is 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. MicroStrain is unique in that the company has won no fewer than nine Best of Sensors Expo Awards, including two in one year.
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. Not only is this an innovative approach to systems engineering, the system is designed for a specific (and very challenging) application. The company uses its ultrasonic consolidation process to literally integrate the sensor array, RFID, and GPS into the armor.
|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.
|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 its award for the 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. These more robust motes are being used in Yale University's BehaviorScope project, that uses image-sensor enabled wireless sensor networks to monitor activity in an assisted living environment.
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. Designed for easy retrofitting of existing HVAC infrastructures, the device 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.