Innovative Sensor Technologies at 2012 CES

By Michael Stanley

Originally posted on Freescale’s The Embedded Beat Blog

My last post looked at a number of innovative robots shown at CES 2012. In this post, I would like to touch on three sensor technologies that caught my eye.

The first is a two dimensional, real-time force imaging system by UCCTW marketed under the “Uneo” trademark.

Force Grid DemoForce Grid Demo

The image above reflects the output of the UCCTW demo when the user places their hand on the sensor (below). Sensor linearity is claimed to be 99 percent within a 100 psi pressure range.

Force Imaging Array by UCCTWForce Imaging Array by UCCTW

I would imagine that this is the type of sensor that is used in Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Center.

The next sensor type is a 3D imaging system by SoftKinetic. I watched a demonstration of swinguru, by guru training systems, which utilizes the platform.

GURU Training Systems Real Time 3D ImagingGURU Training Systems Real Time 3D Imaging

This particular application is designed to help you improve your golf swing. A 3-D imaging system tracks your movements in real-time. Front and side views are displayed in the application window (see above). It’s possible to “baseline” a posture for future reference, and the system can track center of gravity, posture, head movement, etc.

SoftKinetic’s write up on the DS311 DepthSense hardware states that it

    “is specially tuned to see non-visible infrared light emitted by the camera into a scene, measuring the round trip time taken for the light to return. The sensor then transforms the ToF (time of flight) positional data into a rich real-time 3D RGB image, including grey-scale confidence and depth maps, which are easily accessible for software analysis.”

The datasheet for the DS311 is available here. The figure below (extracted from that datasheet) shows a functional breakdown of the DS311 operation.

DS311 Functional ComponentsDS311 Functional Components

Finally, NanoLambda, a spin-off company from the Univeristy of Pittsburgh, has developed a chip scale Optical Spectrum Analyzer (OSA). In addition to use as a standard RGB color sensor, NanoLambda claims that it also enables a “truly non-intrusive glucose monitor”.

Nanolambda OSA Structure & Working Principles Nanolambda OSA Structure & Working Principles

Specs are

  • Resolution: < 10nm
  • Wavelength range: 380nm-1050nm
  • Power: 2.8V-3.3V
  • Interface: SPI or I2C
  • Size: < 3mm x 4mm x 2mmCES is huge, and unfortunately I had limited time to roam the halls. If you attended CES and saw an interesting sensor technology not mentioned above, please post a reply to this posting telling us of your discovery.References:
  • C.-C. Chang*, C.-C. Chen, U. Kurokawa, and B. I Choi, “Accurate sensing of LED spectrum via low cost spectrum sensor,” IEEE Sensors Journal, vol. 11, no. 11, pp. 2869-2877, Nov. 2011 (SCI).
  • U. Kurokawa, B. I. Choi, and C.-C. Chang*, “Filter-based miniature spectrometers: spectrum reconstruction using adaptive regularization,” IEEE Sensors Journal, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 1556-1563, Jul. 2011 (SCI).


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