Electronic systems can really improve the quality of our lives. This is the basic idea behind the effort of many big companies in the microelectronics sector in creating smart solutions for a better life. An example is STMicroelectronics Company, which has recently exhibited at i-Sedex 2014 edition in Seoul, Korea. Its portfolio of products for many smart life application sectors includes:
- Smart Sensing
- Smart Lighting
- Smart Motor Control
- Smart Brain
- Smart Power
The smart sensing activity consists of the sensing of temperature, pressure, and humidity of a controlled environment. This measuring process can be realized by means of silicon-based integrated sensors like, for example, temperature sensors ICs, the pressure sensors MEMS ICs, and the humidity sensors ICs (see figure1). The data of the measurements are transmitted by a wireless protocol at a 2 GHz rate.
Block diagrams of ICs for measurement of humidity, pressure, temperature
(Source: STMicroelectronics/web catalogue)
This segment, as well as each of the other type of applications mentioned above, has room for new developments, which share the basic idea of elaborating the meteorological data coming from the sensors for the monitoring of an environment on a real-time basis, in a very effective mode.
The idea of a smart metering of the environmental parameters is the basic principle of a very interesting new smart object presented at the Saie Smart City Exhibition 2014: the Aladdin’s lamp (see figure 2). This lamp senses the level of pollution of the air of a room and indicates it by means of three different colored LEDs. Each color (green, yellow, and red) indicates the level of pollution in the air.
(Source: CSP Research & Development)
Other possible fields of application of smart sensing include the smart home and the smart agriculture segments. The smart home refers to all the electronics devices that can monitor the internal parts and the access doors of a house and take actions based on the data collected.
Let’s think for example of a smart system that is able to reveal the presence of a person on a floor of a house by means of some integrated proximity sensors. In case of no human presence, it switches off the lights to save energy, or it could launch an alarm procedure in case of unauthorized presence to protect the smart house from thieves and criminals.
Another possible field of application of smart sensing is smart agriculture: depending on the weather conditions checked by means of temperature, pressure, and humidity sensors, some actions could be taken with the goal of optimizing the production of fruit and vegetables, thus maximizing the yield of the cultivations, and the quality of the horticulture products.
Smart sensing holds great promise of being widely utilized also for e-health purposes: “ST exhibits at i-SEDEX a wristwatch-style optical heart-rate monitoring demo. The demonstration shows a wrist-facing LED on the backside of the wearable device that flashes and uses a photodiode and microcontroller to measure light reflected from the wearer’s flowing blood to determine heart rate.”
Do you like the smart sensing approach? Do you think that the integration of smart electronics systems into a controlled environment might effectively improve the lives of human beings who live in that environment? What other fields of application do you think are compatible with smart sensing strategy?