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Connected Integrated Smart Sensors: The Motion Cookies, Part 1

Recently The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced its 2014 Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Award Honorees.

“This year’s CES Best of Innovations Award Honorees run the gamut of next-generation technologies changing the way we live, work and play,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, CEA. “The 2014 Innovations Award program saw a record number of entries. We continue to be awed by the creative thought and design behind these award-winning innovations, which reflect the true spirit of CES and the technology industry.”

An integrated accelerometer MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) by STMicroelectronics has been utilized as a part of the Mother and Motion Cookies system from Sen.se, a project constituted by a series of connected integrated smart sensors, which deserved a nomination in the “Technology for a better world” category.

STMicroelectronics Company announced that its “accelerometer is helping to track motion in the innovative Mother and Motion Cookies from Sen.se, a designer of smart connected devices for the Internet of Things. Sen.se’s Mother is a caring, adaptable, and programmable device that instantly turns objects into smart and understanding things. Sen.se Mother is the head of a family of as many as 24 small connected sensors — the Motion Cookies — that blend into your daily life to make it more serene, healthy, and pleasurable.”

The Mother board from Sen.se is a very innovative system that is interfaced with some sensors of motion; the “Cookies” can be applied on moving objects and can communicate with the Mother board, which can collect, elaborate, and correlate the data (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

The MEMS integrated motion sensor is now a part of the Mother and Motion Cookies project by Sen.se

The MEMS integrated motion sensor is now a part of the Mother and Motion Cookies project by Sen.se

This is a really smart way to map the objects in which the “Cookies” are inserted, and this application holds tremendous promises in the field of the IOT (Internet of Things). The scenario of possible applications is very wide, ranging from monitoring of an environment, which is not friendly to the human presence, by a remote control station, to the medical wireless monitoring of a patient, for example.

One of the strengths of this approach is the possibility to create a complete application by means of a set of sensors built by different makers. The communication protocols are standards provided by the company, which builds the cookies, and this feature allows the system engineer to utilize a lot of different sensors to realize a complete set of applications that is potentially limitless.

What do you think of the “Internet of Everything” approach of the Sen.se project? Do you think this solution will be adopted by all the companies producing integrated sensors?

21 comments on “Connected Integrated Smart Sensors: The Motion Cookies, Part 1

  1. etnapowers
    July 1, 2014

    The presence of a MEMS in the cookie system puts intelligence in the sensor and this solution holds tremendous promises of development in the field of the Internet of Things technology.

  2. etnapowers
    July 2, 2014

    One of the strenghts of the “cookie” approach is the option to create a net of sensors that can collect data. The set of composite data may be elaborated to create complex functions by mean of elementary components like the “cookies”. 

  3. Netcrawl
    July 2, 2014

    @etnapowers there's no shortage of possibilities and potentials here, these could ranges from aiding in the development a more advanced energy-saving household appliances to enhancement of home and healthcare applications. The technology behind this could play a key role in IoT development.

  4. eafpres
    July 3, 2014

    @Paolo–what I find interesting about the approach is that the sensors are supoosedliy adaptive and do signature analysis to determine what is interesting about the environment.

    There is talk in big data circles about signature analysis.  The problems include the massive quantities of data needed.  If some or all of the analysis occurs at the sensor, ultimately much less data needs to be sent back and forth.

  5. Davidled
    July 4, 2014

    It seems to me that ST releases an interesting product. This sensor might be used in the autonomous machines or robotic who makes any decisions. Sensors do all the work. As baseline, temperature and power consumption range would be considered beyond the feature of sensor.

  6. fasmicro
    July 6, 2014

    MEMS is going to be as important as differential amp is to analog systems in this new era of Systems of Things. It has become a very efficient way of sensing things. From gyroscopes to XLs, MEMS is now a big market of itself in the industry.

  7. fasmicro
    July 6, 2014

    >> @etnapowers there's no shortage of possibilities and potentials here, these could ranges from aiding in the development a more advanced energy-saving 

    In the highly celebrated Intuitive Surgical Da Vinci robot that is used for medical surgery, these sensors are very common. They help in tactical movements and segmentation when doctors begin to operate.

  8. fasmicro
    July 6, 2014

    >> If some or all of the analysis occurs at the sensor, ultimately much less data needs to be sent back and forth.

    It will speed up processing of events. I guess ST is doing this for Apple. They have been supplying most of the sensors Apple is using. ADI used to have that contract but ST took it largely because they have the volume to reduce unit cost. MEMS and sensors will change the industry. The whole concept of in-memory processing will have a real technology to work here in the industry at hardware level.

  9. fasmicro
    July 6, 2014

    >> It seems to me that ST releases an interesting product. This sensor might be used in the autonomous machines or robotic who makes any decisions. 

    It is still a mystery that ST seems to focus on consumer markets more than enterprise. Their business model is to make these sensors and crash the costs so that no one comes close to competition. It is working for them. Robotics has benefited immensely in sensing driven by MEMS.

  10. eafpres
    July 6, 2014

    @fasmicro–“I guess ST is doing this for Apple”

    The thing to consider is that the sensor market could be orders of manitude larger in volume than the smartphone market.   Mobile phones are around 1.6B per year; with the share of smart phones growing all the time.  Who knows what the annual volume will come to, but eventually it will be like automotive–small anuual growth, most sales are replacement for someone who already has a phone.  But sensors separate from the phone could be 10x, 100x, or 1000x the volume.  Probably 100s of billions up to trilions.

     

  11. eafpres
    July 6, 2014

    @fasmicro–“Their business model is to make these sensors and crash the costs so that no one comes close to competition. “

    If we scrutinize the market for smart sensors and think what might be disruptive, it comes to mind that “disposable” sensors, including power source, wireless interface, and all sensor electronics and even some intelligence.  I note that thesee cookies say they have a 1 year battery life under some circumstances.  Eventually, this can become 5 years, then for enterprise and industrail use it becomes like light bulbs, you just have a maintenance program to replace them and throw away the old ones.

    In this way I see the idea of “consumer electronics” will disrupt traditional industrial electronics in some areas.

  12. Davidled
    July 6, 2014

    I am wondering if ST provides any part to Samsung as well. As Samsung/Apple dominates in mobile market, Also, ST might have a huge benefit from Samsung. Suppler might have a bigger market share than any Mobile OEM.

  13. etnapowers
    July 7, 2014

    @DaeJ, I agree with you, this is a really interesting project from STMicroelectronics and as netcrawl correctly said:

    “there's no shortage of possibilities and potentials here”

    This solution is limitless as concerns the possible fields of application.

     

  14. Netcrawl
    July 7, 2014

    @Daej actually Apple doesn't build the iPhone itself, it neithers manufacture the components nor assembles them. Those components came from a variety of suppliers from Asia(China and Taiwan). Samsung is also a notable supplier of Apple's components, this extraordinary relationships are called “frenemies.” Apple is one of Samsung's biggest customers and Samsung is one of Apple's biggest suppliers of iPhone components.  

    Samsung provides some of the most important components of iPhone- DRAM, and also application processor that make a whole thing work and etc.  This put the Korean giant into an unsual position- a main supplier of Apple's components (friend) and a close rival (enemy).

     

  15. Victor Lorenzo
    July 7, 2014

    @etnapowers, I agree in that “The set of composite data may be elaborated to create complex functions by mean of elementary components like the “cookies”

    But from my point of view and after reading the scarse documentation I found about this Mother/Cookies product and its technical implementation, from an IoT and hardware perspective it uses very basic concepts. Innovation seems to be at the applications side where collected motion data is converted into more useful data interpretations.

    It can be inferred that it uses a star network structure as “Cookies” require a near by “Mother” in order to pass its collected set of data. The network is implemented using a proprietary protocol on top of sub-GHz ISM transceiver.

    From the applications side it could be considered a “smart” use of collected data from a set motion sensors.

    But it could constitute a robust foundation for a smarter network of home monitoring sensors by adding more types of “cookies”/sensors.

  16. Victor Lorenzo
    July 7, 2014

    @Blane, many experts working in this area share your idea that “If some or all of the analysis occurs at the sensor, ultimately much less data needs to be sent back and forth “.

    Power consumption and communications bandwith usage often drive decisions about wheter we send raw data or data interpretation results over the network link. One key question during the design stage is: What consumes more power: sending all raw data or making local data analyzis for sending less data?

    For reducing power consumption we use [ultra] low power MCUs, and at the same time this limits the types of analyzes we can do on the sensor signals.

  17. etnapowers
    July 7, 2014

    Yes I agree with you, Blaine, the adaptative approach is really one of the most strenghts of the “cookie” solution, there's the chance to built in a easy mode a smart complex network of interconnected sensors .

  18. etnapowers
    July 7, 2014

    “But it could constitute a robust foundation for a smarter network of home monitoring sensors by adding more types of “cookies”/sensors.”

     

    @Victor: that's the goal of this solution, it's still under developing but there's the potential to enhance the effectiveness of this solution that, holds promises of quick diffusion on the market of the Internet of Things.

  19. fasmicro
    July 9, 2014

     But sensors separate from the phone could be 10x, 100x, or 1000x the volume.  Probably 100s of billions up to trilions.

    That is true – you need many sensors in one phone.  The main problem is that in consumer sensors, the cost model is very bad for the makers. It is already a commoditized business line. Yet, when you sell in millions, you cannot complain.

  20. fasmicro
    July 9, 2014

    >> I am wondering if ST provides any part to Samsung as wel

    Apple goes with ST while Samsung goes with Knowles and Kionics. I am not aware that ST is supplying Samsung. But note that Samsung makes compoents itself besides the system level products.

  21. fasmicro
    July 9, 2014

     This put the Korean giant into an unsual position- a main supplier of Apple's components (friend) and a close rival (enemy).

    I am yet to read a case study that explains very well that relationship. It is simply unbelievable how these companies have built a great business relationship and yet embarrass themselves before jurors now and then. They have so much in common to be wasting money on lawyers.

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