Features

STMicroelectronics Partners with Schneider Electric on carbon neutrality and co-development of energy-efficient solutions

STMicroelectronics has selected Schneider Electric as a strategic partner to support its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2027. Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, will support ST in this next stage of its ongoing efforts to reduce its global environmental footprint.

The companies will collaborate on the overall reduction of energy consumption on ST’s manufacturing and design sites, the renewable energy sourcing strategy across all of ST’s locations, and the identification and implementation of credible and relevant carbon avoidance and sequestration programs.

The partnership builds on a longstanding relationship between the two companies. Today, ST supplies a variety of energy-efficient components to Schneider Electric for use in its variable speed drives, power monitoring systems, building management systems, and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems.

Under the new agreement, ST and Schneider Electric will increase their cooperation to develop additional joint products, technologies, and solutions focused on energy efficiency improvement, supporting digital transformation in buildings, datacenters, industrial applications, and infrastructure. The partners will specifically look at the possibilities enabled by wide-bandgap semiconductors (SiC and GaN), AI-enabled sensors, and connectivity.

“ST is stepping up its ambition and plans for the sustainability of its operations to become carbon neutral by 2027. To do so, we have built a comprehensive program that covers extensive actions in our fabs – key assets that will strengthen our design sites, our global energy procurement of 100% renewable energy, and our overall footprint throughout our operations globally,” said Jean-Marc Chery, STMicroelectronics’ President & CEO. “These are very ambitious targets for a global company such as ST. To reach them we will collaborate with one of the leaders in this field, Schneider Electric. Schneider’s support will be instrumental in reaching our own sustainability targets and in the joint development of technology, products, and solutions that can benefit the industries we work with and, ultimately, society as a whole.”

“Schneider Electric is supporting the transition to an all-digital, all-electric world that will meet the challenges of the climate crisis without leaving anyone behind. But we’re not doing it alone; our ecosystem—including our customers and our suppliers—plays a crucial role in this transition,” said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO of Schneider Electric. “Both a customer and a supplier, STMicroelectronics is one of our key partners in this endeavor. By using ST solutions in our products, we can accelerate our performance and efficiency. In turn, by working with ST to set and achieve its carbon reduction targets, we create a virtuous cycle that contributes to the fight against climate change while reaching our respective sustainability goals.”

Getting a feel for it

Sony’s PlayStation 5 features the DualSense controller, making it the latest innovation in gaming. Offering a more immersive experience, the controller’s adaptive triggers allow players to feel the game. This technology, known as haptic feedback, communicates a sense of feeling to its users, which can be useful in many applications. Here, Dave Walsha, commercial development officer at precision drive system supplier Electro Mechanical Systems (EMS) explores haptic technology and the motors behind it.

Haptic technology is any technology that allows users to experience touch. It does this by triggering the body’s somatosensory system. The somatosensory system is the part of the nervous system that responds to change on the surface of, or just inside, the body. It includes the sense of touch, sense of position and movement and haptic perception, which is the ability to recognise an object through touch.

There are different ways to use technology to deliver this sense of feeling. The most appropriate technique depends on the product’s application. Applications of haptic technology include uses in the automotive and medical industries, which use motors to haptically communicate with the user.

Eyes on the road

Haptics are increasingly used in the automotive industry to improve passenger safety by minimising the need for the driver to take their eyes off the road. Haptic feedback can be integrated into the car’s touchscreen interface to confirm touch commands such as adjustments to the heating system or music playback to the driver.

The gentle vibration that the system generates is detected by the driver’s somatosensory system, to give them a non-visual confirmation that their command has been actioned. This prevents the driver from having to take their eyes off the road to check the interface.

On a more complex level, haptic technology is increasingly being incorporated into other contact surfaces, including the steering wheel and the seat. In conjunction with other devices, such as sensors, motors can provide haptic feedback to the driver by catching their attention through a warning vibration.

If the sensors detect a possible safety threat, for example, if the driver gets too close to the vehicle in front or they are approaching the edge of their lane, a motor located within the steering wheel can vibrate to warn the driver. This non-visual communication alerts the driver without further compromising their safety.

Precision in incisions

Minimally invasive robotic surgery (MIRS) can deliver many advantages over traditional surgical procedures, but the loss of force feedback can result in tissue damage. As robotic surgery gains popularity, it’s imperative that haptic feedback systems become a standard feature of MIRS.

In these intricate procedures, doctors can perform with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. During the procedure, a robot is connected to a 3D monitor to allow the surgeon to view the procedure, who then controls the robot using a surgical console and joystick. Haptics are incredibly useful for MIRS because they simulate the feeling to the surgeon, making them feel more like they’re the one clutching the surgery tools.

To provide haptic feedback, a force feedback system uses an electric motor to provide resistance. As the surgeon moves the robot, this resistive force gives them information about the environment by resisting commands. This helps them to determine if they are applying too much or too little pressure.

The goal of haptic feedback systems is to restore the sense of touch available when performing tasks with human hands, while still offering the control and reliability benefits that uses robotics can bring to minimally invasive procedures. Achieving this precision requires a motor that can deliver accurate movements to the robot.

The FAULHABER SR series of DC micromotors with precious metal commutation has a low mechanical time constant and low weight, which makes the motors highly reactive. They can also have integrated incremental magnetic encoders, adding just 1.8 millimetres to the motor’s length, which can help control dynamic changes to the direction and velocity of the motor’s rotation and the positioning of the motor. This closed loop feedback can give the robots better precision in their incisions than an unaided surgeon could achieve alone.

Whether it’s getting a feel for the virtual world through the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, improving driver safety through vibratory motors or making robotic surgery more realistic, haptic feedback’s ability to immerse the user in an alternate reality is amplifying user experience across several sectors.

In the way that cameras provide sight and speakers provide audio, haptics offer its users an additional sense, leaving just the development of smell and taste technology before users can experience a full AR sensory explosion.

Industrial enclosure air cooling solutions vs liquid cooling solutions

Almost without exception, industrial environments are hostile spaces for electrical equipment; their components don’t react well to high levels of moisture, dust, and heat in the atmosphere. This sensitivity, in turn, affects plant efficiency and will ultimately lower output and profitability.

But moisture, dust and heat don’t need to be a concern provided you implement an effective climate control solution for your equipment.

The first step is to consider what constitutes suitable cooling to meet your needs, bearing in mind that your cooling needs may alter with any future changes to applications within your facility.

It’s common for managers, when choosing a cooling solution, to default to air cooling using fans and filters because it’s familiar.

While air cooling can be a viable solution, it also has its limitations which must be understood before it’s installed, otherwise you risk creating further problems further down the line. Karl Lycett, Rittal UK’s Product Manager for Climate Control, investigates…

Air Cooling

Air cooling is relatively self-explanatory.  The cooling is achieved by passing cooler, outside air across the enclosure’s warmer internal components. However, this simplicity has its shortcomings which should be kept in mind.

If at any point the temperature within the facility exceeds the maximum allowable temperature (setpoint) inside of the enclosure, then no cooling will be possible. A good example of this is during the height of summer when the combination of lots of machinery and high ambient temperatures can cause severe temperature spikes within the factory.  These will quickly lead to overheating componentry and unexpected tripping of critical equipment. But this is only an issue if your factory is prone to surges in temperature. For many organisations, there is an acceptable level of general HVAC installed to ‘take the edge’ off the temperature, allowing air cooling to create a protective environment for the equipment within the enclosures.

Dust is a constant irritant within a factory and realistically it can never be fully removed. Even ‘cleanest’ industrial space will have a base level of detritus within the air which will then be drawn into enclosures if fans are employed. Unfortunately, this dust can get into wire connections or internal component fans and cause havoc over time, either preventing thermal exchange or blocking up and shorting wiring connections.

The best way to prevent dust issues arising is to add a suitable filter medium to your air cooling.  Filter mediums (or mats) ‘catch’ particulates before they enter the enclosure. The mats should be replaced on a regular basis to prevent a build-up of dirt which can then ‘choke’ the fan, preventing it from pulling sufficient cooling air into the enclosure.

Liquid Cooling

As mentioned earlier, it’s common to find traditional air-cooling methods are unviable or simply not especially effective in industrial spaces.  This can be due to factors such as the location or amount of the equipment involved, or it can be down to physical space restrictions,

Liquid cooling, however, is an option open to all, and one that is much more effective than air at removing waste heat and reducing the temperature within the enclosure.

Liquid cooling, as the name suggests, uses chilled water to perform the cooling of the enclosure. An ‘Air to Air Heat Exchanger’ is mounted on the enclosure and connected to an industrial chiller. The chiller cools down heated water from the enclosure to a reasonable temperature before delivering it back to the heat exchanger.

The beauty of liquid cooling is that it is ‘active’ which means that you can make the internal temperature lower than that of the local environment. So even in the height of summer, with the factory in full swing, your electrical equipment will be protected. Many industrial sites already have an operational chilled water supply to service other procedures and equipment. Where this is the case, it can be tapped off and used for enclosure cooling.

Liquid cooling requires hydraulic hoses (cold water in, hot water out) to be connected between the heat exchanger and the chiller. It’s therefore worth giving prior thought to both the enclosure placement and where to run the hoses to ensure the smooth commissioning and operation of the whole system.

Much like the air cooling, regular maintenance of the system is strongly recommended to ensure the cooling equipment can provide years of uninterrupted service.

In summary, both solutions are valid in the right scenario.  However, choosing a cooling solution without first considering its operating environment is setting yourself up for less than perfect result. This in turn will have an impact on the overall effectiveness of your chosen cooling solution and the ongoing protection of your critical electrical equipment.

Further information at www.rittal.co.uk.

AS200706 Bridge Amplifier with Linearity Correction

The AS200706 is a small compact board for 3-wire systems providing a 4mA – 20mA current output with adjustable linearity correction. The unit has individual multi-turn potentiometers for the precise setting of Zero, Span and Linearity without the need of a computer. This unit is also available with mid. zero output (12mA for example) for compression / tension transducers. The inputs provide EMI-/RF-suppression. Transducer wires can be easily connected to board via soldering or SIL sockets (standard).

Features

  • Wide range power supply 16-30V
  • 5V stabilised bridge excitation voltage
  • Bridge resistance 240 Ohm (or greater)
  • Bridge sensitivity 0.6mV/V – 3mV/V
  • Size 29mm x 29mm, 7.5mm height
  • Fast calibration procedure
  • Reverse-polarity protection
  • Easy linearity correction procedure

Applications

  • Load-Cell Industrial Weighing
  • Strain-gauge Load Testing & Monitoring
  • Overload Protection Systems

Contact

Tel. + 44 (0)7763 740906

Email: info@aieng.co.uk

Website: www.aieng.co.uk

Farnell further enhances range of educational devices with XinaBox

Farnell, an Avnet Company and global distributor of electronic components, products and solutions, has signed a global franchise with XinaBox to broaden its market leading range of educational devices and kits. The XinaBox range provides a low-cost entry into the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and automation and helps educators combine Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning with the experience of physical computing for students from a young age. Although targeted at education, XinaBox also provides solutions to easily scale beta testing for prototyping new applications.

XinaBox is widely used in secondary schools and colleges across the world due to its ease of use, and suitability for first-time users right through to more advanced secondary students and makers. The XinaBox kits include a selection of xChips, designed to fast track a user’s understanding of the IoT. Specialist knowledge of soldering or hardware components is not required as xChips are simply clipped together without wires, soldering or breadboards, meaning experiments can be setup quickly.

The range of over 80 modular hardware xChips includes cores/CPUs, sensors, power, communication, output and storage. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LoRaWAN cores have been designed to make it easy to connect projects to the IoT, and other components such as the BBC micro:bit and Raspberry Pi can be easily integrated to supercharge projects. xChips can operate with pre-compiled code or can be programmed from scratch using leading platforms such as MakeCode, Arduino and Python.

The range of XinaBox kits now available from Farnell include:

  • XK01 STEM Starter Kit: Suitable for secondary school classrooms, the XK01 STEM Starter Kit enables students to build a simple project and connect to an IoT platform, using the quick start guide. The kit features a Wi-Fi Core, xChip (ESP8266) and includes sensors for temperature, humidity, and pressure, UV index, a mini-OLED display, a spacer chip and connectors. The starter kit can be used to collect and investigate the relationship between data sets such as temperature and atmospheric pressure, temperature and light, temperature and humidity, and visible light and ultraviolet light.
  • XK05 micro:bit IoT Kit: An ideal entry-level product, the XK05 IoT kit for micro:bit is designed to introduce young people to IoT technology. The kit enables the analysis of large data sets in the classroom with no previous experience required. Users can learn how to connect the micro:bit to the cloud and build a smart IoT device with the coding extension, MakeCode.

Professional users and makers can also use XinaBox to progress their ideas to prototypes much faster, rapidly improving time to market whilst reducing cost of prototyping and facilitating scaled beta testing:

  • XK12 IoT Starter Kit: Powered by Zerynth, the XK12 IoT Starter Kit combines modular electronics with an ecosystem of software tools in Python. The kit contains everything required to build a smart IoT edge device that collects environmental data. An actuator can also be attached to create automation projects such as automated electric gates, garage doors or fans.

Lee Turner, Global Head of Semiconductors and SBC at Farnell, said: “Easy to use tools are key to supporting teachers as they help students develop the computational thinking and complex problem-solving skills needed for a career in a digital economy. XinaBox provides schools and colleges with accessible tools to introduce STEM and IoT while providing inspiration for hands-on learning in the classroom, enabling students to learn about new technologies in a highly creative and collaborative way. For more advanced students, and even professional engineers, XinaBox provides new options to scale beta testing and reduce time to market through its simple, modular, non-solder structure.”

Farnell has worked with multiple educational organisations and governments to support strategic rollouts of STEM learning solutions into the classroom, and stocks a broad range of education devices that can be supplied in classes, schools and multiple-school quantities. Farnell can also offer support with provision and bundling of equipment for bespoke large-scale programmes similar to the Super:bit programme in Norway.

The complete XinaBox range is available from Farnell in EMEA, Newark in North America and element14 in APAC.

Endress+Hauser makes instrument selection easier on endress.com

More and more measurement instruments are being ordered online from Endress+Hauser. In the first five months of 2020, incoming orders via endress.com nearly doubled. With the introduction of the new FLEX product segmentation structure, integration of the global E-direct portal into the website and further optimisation of the e-commerce area on endress.com, finding and ordering the right products online will be even faster and easier for customers.

“By merging both shops and introducing several innovations on endress.com, we are making it even easier for customers to do business with us digitally,” says Nikolaus Krüger, Chief Sales Officer at the Endress+Hauser Group. While the global E-direct portal was designed for simple products that serve basic measurement needs, endress.com offers the entire Endress+Hauser portfolio. With the migration on course to be completed by the end of the year, everything will be available at a glance and from a single source online, thus eliminating the need to switch shops and accounts.

To do that the FLEX product segmentation was introduced on endress.com. This new feature supplements the existing selection options and divides the Endress+Hauser measurement instrument portfolio into four areas according to the needs of the customer. The ‘Fundamental’ segment contains basic products that are easy to select, install and operate. ‘Lean’ features reliable and robust instruments designed for the efficient management of core processes. ‘Extended’ shows all innovative process optimisation technologies, while the ‘Xpert’ segment combines specialised products for demanding applications. “FLEX makes it even easier for our customers to locate the right product for their individual needs,” says Nikolaus Krüger.

Newly revamped e-commerce section to provide the best possible user experience

In addition, the endress.com e-commerce area was expanded with useful functions to improve the user experience. After signing in, customers can now use their ‘My Endress+Hauser’ account to more easily manage all of their activities, such as product offers and orders. The account structure, shopping cart and checkout have been optimised as well. Enhanced order tracking provides full transparency, which now gives customers the ability to call up the status of their orders at any time and from any device.

How thermal cameras safeguard remote substation perimeters

Security personnel must be able to quickly detect unauthorised vehicles and individuals at critical infrastructure sites. Without intrusion detection, entities like electrical substations can be subject to physical attacks. 88 percent of substations experience at least one break-in every year and 10 percent see more than 20 intrusions in the same time frame, according to CIGRE, a global electricity industry organisation. To safeguard remote substations from external threats, electric utilities are relying on durable thermal cameras for superior monitoring and protection.

Top pain points for remote substation security

The failure of a key substation caused by a security breach would have a debilitating effect for homeowners, businesses, and mission-critical infrastructure. While physical security is a top priority for utilities, designing, installing and operating a perimeter system requires skill. Remote location, limited network connectivity, minimal lighting, internal security audits, and compliance with North American Electric Reliability Corporation are some of the challenges that both substation security directors and system integrators face.

Thermal for your perimeter intrusion detection system (pids)

Since their arrival on the mainstream security scene a few decades ago, thermal security cameras have quickly become the optimal solution for remote substation perimeter security, due to their ability to monitor perimeters day and night in adverse weather conditions as well as in harsh environments.

Thermal security cameras monitor perimeters in adverse weather conditions, day or night.

Thermal cameras measure the minute differences in heat signatures emitted by objects and people to produce high-contrast images and reliable intrusion detection. They enable security personnel to detect an intruder before they ever reach the perimeter for early intervention.

As the industry leader in advanced thermal technology, FLIR provides the best sensor quality available. FLIR’s total security solution featuring a diverse suite of perimeter cameras offers the widest selection of lenses and detection ranges, adaptable to both large and small deployments. FLIR’s track record of success is just one of the reasons why utilities choose FLIR cameras time and again.

Design recommendations

When deploying thermal cameras at substations, there are several factors to consider to optimise performance. Here are some tips from our FLIR experts.

Identify What You Need to Protect: Assess your substation’s unique needs, define your threats, and determine which area you need to monitor. For rural or small substations miles away from the nearest city, position your cameras so you have a solid view of the outside perimeter. If anyone approaches, you want to have ample warning. For substations in urban areas that are next to public lands and walkways, it may not be cost-effective to “look out” as pedestrians can easily generate nuisance alerts. In these scenarios, thermal cameras that surveil the interior of the substation may be the better option.

Make the Most of Existing Infrastructure: Thermal cameras must be mounted at a minimum of 12-15 feet above the ground. However, some substation fences are only 6-8 feet tall. In this case, consider mounting cameras on telephone poles or tower structures. Utilising these existing structures instead of digging new trenches can save you both time and money.

Thermal cameras can effectively monitor the interior of substations when “looking out” may generate false alarms.

Select the right Camera for your Application: For small substations that are less than an acre, deploying a couple of FLIR Elara FC-Series ID cameras, which feature onboard analytics, along the fence line will often do the trick. For short to mid-range needs, the FLIR Elara FB-Series is a great, economical option. Install a visible camera or a camera that provides both thermal and optical imagers, like FLIR Saros DH-390 Dome at the gate, to monitor general traffic. For larger substations (around two acres) that are high-value sites, consider deploying a mix of FLIR FC-Series ID cameras with the FLIR Saros DM-Series to cover the fence line. Additionally, mount a pan-tilt camera with both visible and thermal streams, such as the FLIR Elara DX-Series or FLIR Triton PT-Series, to look around the perimeter for superior monitoring and threat assessment.

As a final consideration, choose the right software to streamline management, operations, and functionality. For large applications where customers need to manage surveillance, access control, radar, and other disparate systems on one platform, consider command and control software. For enterprise-level surveillance operations, a video management system is optimal and for small applications using just a few cameras, a network video recorder is sufficient. Regardless of the size of the project, partner with an expert team that can help assess, design, install, and program the right system for your application.

Amphenol to acquire MTS Systems

Amphenol and MTS Systems today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Amphenol will acquire MTS for $58.50 per share in cash, or approximately $1.7 billion, including the assumption of outstanding debt and liabilities, net of cash.

“We have long admired MTS’s technology and position across a variety of attractive end markets,” said R. Adam Norwitt, Amphenol’s President and CEO. “This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of continuing to expand our range of sensor and sensor-based products across a wide array of industries to further capitalise on the long-term growth potential of the electronics revolution. We are extremely excited about the strength of our combined product portfolio which will enable us to offer even more innovative technologies to our customers around the world. I look forward to welcoming the talented MTS team to the Amphenol family.”

“Amphenol is a leader in interconnect and sensor technologies with a proven management team and a strong track record of successfully acquiring companies across its platform,” said Randy J. Martinez, MTS’s Interim President and CEO. “MTS brings to Amphenol its high-quality technology solutions, a diversified customer base of blue-chip companies and a strong financial profile. We could not be more pleased to join forces with Amphenol, which will allow us to continue to deliver exceptional customer experience through high-quality and innovative solutions.”

David J. Anderson, Chairman of MTS’s Board of Directors, concluded, “The MTS Board of Directors is pleased, as a result of its strategic review, to deliver MTS Systems shareholders the value inherent in this transaction. I have full confidence that, together with Amphenol, MTS will continue to engineer technologies that meaningfully improve and modernise the world’s products – for the benefit of its customers – for generations to come.”

MTS is organised into two business segments: Sensors and Test & Simulation. The Sensors segment represents a highly complementary offering of high-technology, harsh environment sensors sold into diverse end markets and applications, and positions Amphenol to have one of the industry’s broadest ranges of sensors and sensor-based products. The Test & Simulation segment is an industry leader and Amphenol believes it represents an attractive business with excellent near and long-term potential. Accordingly, Amphenol plans to undertake a strategic review of the business to best position it for future success.

The acquisition of MTS is expected to be accretive to Amphenol’s earnings per share in the first year after closing, with approximately $0.10 and $0.06 attributable to MTS’s Sensors and Test & Simulation segments, respectively. This assumes the post-closing reduction of certain public company costs. The transaction will be financed through a combination of borrowings under Amphenol’s existing credit and commercial paper facilities as well as cash on hand.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close by the middle of 2021, subject to certain regulatory approvals, approval from MTS’s shareholders and other customary closing conditions.

UST Global partners with Plastic Logic for digital retail shelf displays

UST Global, a leading digital transformation solutions company, has announced its partnership with Plastic Logic, a leader in the design and manufacture of flexible, glass-free electrophoretic displays (EPDs). The joint venture will enable UST Global to provide its retail customers with flexible, whole-shelf ESLs (Electronic Shelf Labels) based on Plastic Logic’s advanced flexible oTFT-based ePaper technology.

The flexible ESLs can be curved into a variety of shapes, measuring up to 4ft long x 1 3/4in deep, will enable retailers to display product information and pricing across the entire length of a standard shelf, as well as create advertising and promotional messages that can be displayed, rotated and dynamically changed several times a week.

Speaking on this occasion, Tim Burne, Chief Executive Officer, Plastic Logic, said, “We’re really excited to be partnering with UST Global to find new and exciting retail applications for our innovative ESL technology. To date retailers have struggled to find the right method for creating whole-shelf displays. The combination of our display development efforts and our partnership with UST Global means that, for the first time, retailers can take advantage of flexible display technology that significantly enhances their customers’ interactions and experience.”

Commenting on this, Sunil Kanchi, Chief Investment Officer and Chief Information Officer, UST Global, said, “Innovation through perfect technology enablers with measurable benefits has always proven to drive exponential growth for large retail organisations. We see an upward trend in the market for Electronic Shelf Labels. Our global partnership and joint development with Plastic Logic ensure that our retail customers can now drive costs and increase value by adopting flexible shelf labels for centralised pricing and advertisements.”

Niranjan Ram, Chief Technology Officer, UST Global, said, “We are seeing demand from our large retail customers globally for flexible, whole-shelf displays that are not restricted to individual product pricing, but expanding to advertisements along the shelf edge. This joint venture with Plastic Logic means we can provide retailers with the ability to create and change pricing across whole ranges on a standard shelf, as well as incorporate advertising for brands and products. This offers significant ROI opportunities through additional revenues generated from every store shelf, from labor savings and dynamic updates to potentially thousands of labels and advertisements.”

New ScioSense gas sensor achieves industry’s closest match to natural human response to impaired air quality

The new ENS160, an indoor air quality sensor launched today by ScioSense, uses sophisticated sensor fusion algorithms to produce measurement outputs which are better tuned to the natural response of human occupants than any other sensor on the market provides.

ScioSense, a manufacturer of integrated environmental and flow sensors, has implemented a new multi-element sensing architecture for its next generation of air quality sensors using four highly integrated MEMS micro-hotplates, and developed sensor fusion technology which synthesises the signals from each sensing element while compensating for the effect of humidity.

This new technology underlies an industry-best Automatic Baseline Correction function, which intelligently resets the local threshold for air quality to ensure that the ENS160 reliably detects changes to pollution levels and odours in indoor air, no matter where in the world it is located. Intelligent sensor fusion is also the key to an enhanced carbon dioxide equivalents (eCO2) score, which takes account of the range of polluting or odorous gases generated by human activity in addition to exhaled CO2.

These advanced features, unique to the ENS160, mean that its air quality indicators much more closely reflect the effect of airborne pollutants and odours on occupants of indoor space. Systems such as air purifiers, demand-controlled ventilation, cooker hoods and smart home hubs based on the ENS160 can perform more accurate monitoring of indoor air. This means that users can enjoy clean and fresh air at all times while avoiding the waste of money and energy incurred when running air-cleaning equipment unnecessarily.

The new micro-hotplates and intelligent operating controls also provide high immunity to contamination by siloxanes, ensuring a long operating lifetime in any indoor residential, commercial, professional or in-cabin automotive setting.

Dirk Enderlein, CEO at ScioSense, said: ‘When ventilation or air-cleaning equipment stops running because the air-quality monitoring system has failed to detect human body odours, or has its baseline for air quality set too high, it has a real effect on the occupants of indoor spaces. It impairs the ability of school students to focus on their lessons, it puts people at risk of long-term harm caused by pollution, and it makes our living spaces less pleasant to work or relax in. Offering a unique combination of high broadband gas sensitivity and intelligent selectivity, the ENS160 enables ventilation and air cleaning systems to be used in the right way at the right time, to improve the quality of life for people indoors.’

Three types of accurate air quality output

The multi-element technology on which the ENS160 is based is sensitive to oxidising gases such as ozone which affect the quality of indoor air, as well as to a wide range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene, ethanol, methane, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. The algorithms supplied with the ENS160 produce three measurement outputs:

  • Total VOCs (TVOC), which draws on the broad sensitivity of the ENS160 to human-generated and artificial VOCs
  • eCO2, a commonly used proxy measurement for the density of human occupation of an indoor space
  • Various air quality indexes which are compatible with international standards

The ENS160 also provides its raw gas measurements for OEMs which want to apply proprietary algorithms.

The sensor is housed in a surface-mount package which measures just 3mm x 3mm x 0.9mm, making the ENS160 the smallest fully integrated, reprogrammable air quality sensor in the market, suitable for integration into highly space-constrained designs, including in consumer products.

The ENS160 provides its measurement outputs to a host controller via a serial peripheral or I2C interface. Since all the sensor’s measurement algorithms run on-chip, there is no processing overhead on the host.

ScioSense also supplies an analogue version, the ENS145, which is based on the same micro-hotplate technology that the ENS160 uses. It is intended for distributed system designs in which a central host fully controls the measurement outputs derived from the gas sensor inputs that the ENS145 provides.

Product samples and evaluation kits will be available on request from ScioSense and authorised distributors in Q1 2021.