In the Smart Life: The Intelligence of Electronics Improving Our Lives, Part 4 of this blog series I introduced the smart brain approach as a new trend of the microelectronics industry to produce smart objects, driven by a central core, which is the real brain of the system that puts real intelligence to electronic objects.
Smart brain technology can be utilized for entertainment gaming purposes, like the Anki drive racing game, that I introduced in the part 4 of this blog series, but moreover the communication with moving objects, whether it be mini-cars or bikes or cars, can be bidirectional.
This aspect of smart brain technology is the basic idea of a couple of very interesting new smart systems, for car parking and bike sharing respectively, presented at the Saie Smart City Exhibition 2014:
- Doceo project: A system, made by the Rotechnology Company that manages the sharing of a bike in a city. Each user has a wrist band with an RFID module and “smart brain” computing units that manage the data and communicate (by means of a special app) to the user smartphone giving to the user information about the points of interest of the city that are near the bike’s position. It works like an interactive touristic guide. Once the biker has finished his ride, he can lock the bicycle in a rack of a collection point and the chip communicates with the lock in the rack, hence the position of the bike and its availability can be easily evaluated by the other users, by means of their smartphones. It only requires that the user download the app and register on the company website.
- Parksmart project: A real time communication system that allows the user, by mean of an app on his smartphone, to read the availability of parking space in some collection points of the city (see fig.1). The data coming from each parking facility are elaborated by mean of a smart electronic brain and are shared by a wireless communication infrastructure. This project will result in a better efficiency of the parking, reducing the time spent to find a parking and reducing the traffic in big cities with evident advantages in terms of pollution.
The smart brain approach is not only a design strategy of a smart system on chip; it applies also to the protection of the human brain by means of a collection of smart sensor MEMS that can be inserted, for example, into the helmet of professional football player in the NFL. The accelerometers sense any critical injury to the head of the player during the game and a central IC, acting as an integrated brain, elaborates on the data coming from the accelerometers, to take corrective actions where the goal is to preserve the head and the brain of the player effectively in real time mode. In case of a heavy acceleration of the head of the player in a certain direction, the medical staff at the bench is informed on a real time basis and the medical staff is able to decide if further medical checks are required.
This solution has been presented by the STMicroelectronics Company (see Figure 2) that “announced that the just-launched Brain Sentry Impact SensorTM , a lightweight helmet-mounted impact-monitoring device, uses ST’s MEMS accelerometer to monitor head impacts that may cause concussions or other brain injuries.” (source: STMicroelectronics web press)
The smart brain protection solution might be applied to all sports (American Football, Ice Hockey, etc…) where brain injuries are possible and it results in reducing the effects and preventing complications by a real time monitoring of each players’ brain (see Figure 3).
Do you like the smart brain approach? Do you think that a central smart brain like a microcontroller is able to control effectively all the smart sensors and wireless communication ICs? Have you experience in this promising technology? Do you think that adding intelligence to electronics is a trend that will improve our lives?