How sensors make our everyday life easier
Intelligent sensor technology is increasingly conquering everyday life. Ultrasound, non-contact radar and optoelectronic solutions and laser technologies are the current trends in the industry that drive innovation. In this blog post you can find out what opportunities innovative sensor technologies can open up in the healthcare, smart home and automotive industries.
Sensors in the field of health and wellness
Innovative sensor technologies in the areas of ambient assisted living, health, fitness and prevention are used in a wide range of applications.
Biosensors for monitoring body chemistry
A new generation of tissue-integrated sensors from the Californian company Profusa enables people to monitor their individual body chemistry in an innovative way. The biosensors are not isolated from the body, but work completely integrated within the body tissue - without metal devices and without electronics. Applications are planned for fitness, wellness and health. Especially for chronically ill persons this sensor technology offers more safety and a relief in everyday life.
High-tech sensor for blood glucose measurement
The new blood glucose measurement with the high-tech FreeStyle Libre sensor is designed to make life significantly easier for diabetics who require insulin. The sensor developed by Abbott is attached to the upper arm and allows blood glucose measurement with a discrete scan. The sensor makes the usual stinging obsolete and also provides much more insight into the course of glucose than before.
The shoe as a helpful companion
Whether you are motorically limited due to an accident or age, with the "Walkassist" from Tec Innovation, obstacles are recognised in good time. The warning system built into the shoe has distance sensors, a processing unit and provides acoustic, haptic or visual feedback. The acoustic feedback is realized through "bone headphones", which allow the natural auditory canals to remain free and environmental events to be heard.
Safety mats with integrated sensors
Safety mats in themselves are nothing new. However, it is innovative to supplement conventional fall mats with fall mat sensors that register load changes on the mat and quickly call for help via a call system.
Sensor Drug Dispenser
Drug donors equipped with sensors alleviate the problem of forgetting to take medication. The drugs to be taken are first presorted in several compartments. The device then reminds you to take the medication by a signal and provides the required medication at the desired time. The alarm only stops when a sensor detects that the tablets have actually been taken.
Textiles with integrated sensor technology are increasingly used in the health and wellness sector, but also in care. Older people, athletes and risk patients in particular benefit from innovative sensor technologies. For example, textiles with sensors can not only monitor movement but also control body temperature and breathing for bedridden persons or babies. Sensor materials can be used for a wide variety of purposes:
- Measurement of the fluid level in the body (too low/too high)
- Measurement of skin resistance
- Recording of vital functions (heartbeat, breathing rhythm, temperature)
- Measurement of pressure and deformation (e.g. pressure point detection)
- Monitoring of movement sequences (athletes, elderly persons)
Since the sensors incorporated in the textiles are much thinner than a hair, they are hardly noticed by the wearer of the garment. Also, some sensors do not require a power source, as they generate electricity themselves. Read more about "Smart Textiles" in our blog "7 Reasons Why Wearables Will Revolutionize Textiles and Clothing".
Sensor technology in vehicles
With cameras, infrared and ultrasonic sensors and radar sensors, driver assistance systems, such as autonomous emergency braking systems or parking aids, make everyday life easier and also increase safety on the road. Car manufacturers have been offering automatic parking assistants for about ten years that use ultrasound sensors at the front and rear to assist the handlebars when parking. The car misses the parking space, the steering wheel locks in itself and the driver only has to operate the throttle and brake. Luxury cars such as the innovative BMW 7 Series are already one step ahead. The model, which has been available since the end of 2015, can also be parked fully automatically by remote control without the driver having to be in the car. Mercedes offers a similar system via a smartphone app for the E-Class.
Innovative, energy self-sufficient parking sensors make everyday life much easier when it comes to finding a parking space in conurbations. Munich's Start-up Park Here enables efficient parking searches using sensors that detect available parking spaces and send information to navigation systems, apps and OEMs, for example. Drivers can then drive directly to free parking spaces.
When it comes to autonomous driving, luxury cars are one step ahead. Some luxury sedans can already drive autonomously under special conditions and for short periods of time. For the new BMW 7 Series, for example, the engineers combined the information from the individual radar sensors to create a 360-degree image of the vehicle environment. The BMW can actively avoid collisions and if you get on a collision course when changing lanes, the so-called active side collision protection prevents a collision. But the Austrians also have a lot to offer in this area: In September 2016, the Virtual Vehicle research centre in Graz presented the first autonomous test vehicle. According to experts, the white Ford Mondeo could be on Styrian roads as early as spring 2017.
For the sake of completeness, it should also be mentioned that the major manufacturers such as Daimler have been working feverishly on autonomous trucks for several years now. "In the next ten years we will see more changes in the truck sector than in the five decades before," said the then head of the truck division, Wolfgang Bernhard, in an interview with manager magazin.de. Last year, the vehicle manufacturer tested the Future Truck 2025 on a closed motorway section near Magdeburg. The development of autonomous tractors is also well advanced. A mass suitability is already expected in the coming years.
Sensor technology in home and garden
More and more electronic devices use sensors to perform tasks in the home and garden. In connection with the Internet, devices can also be linked together and increase security and convenience via smart home solutions. This so-called Internet of Things (IoT) includes networks of data-collecting sensors, cloud computing and machine-to-machine communication.
The range of applications for sensor technology in the home is broad, from sensor-controlled burglary and fire protection through the control of heating and lighting to modern household control. For example, there are already cleaning robots that clean the apartment independently, regardless of the floor covering. Sensors and cameras ensure that the apartment is cleaned at all angles and that the vacuum cleaner can avoid obstacles. The same principle applies to wiper and window cleaning robots or automatic lawn mowers. Water damage in the home caused by washing machines or dishwashers can also be prevented in future by water sensors. For example, the Loxone Water Sensor Air detects incoming and outgoing water and immediately sounds an alarm via a mini-server. Sensor-controlled irrigation systems are also very useful in gardening. Watering does not take place after pre-programmed times, but, as with the VIRACUBE, only when the plants actually need water.
Conclusion: The future belongs to the tiny ones
Intelligent sensor systems are omnipresent in our everyday lives. They provide security, save lives and improve our quality of life. As more and more areas of life are automated and networked, the importance of innovative sensor technologies will also increase in the future. It will be interesting to see what our everyday life will look like in five to ten years' time.
Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.