Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Self-Powered Wireless Sensors in the Industrial Internet of Things

Sensors have a key role in industrial production. For example, they can be used for quality and process monitoring or condition-based maintenance. The range of applications is large and is evolving even further, largely due to the increasing use of self-powered wireless sensors for the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Posted in: Articles, Sensors
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Optical Sensor for Unknown Gas Detection

A new sensor combines two spectroscopy methods in one device for flexibility and high sensitivity.

Gas sensors are usually engineered to detect a specific molecule in one of many potential categories: toxic gases, combustible gases, and VOCs. A number of technologies, such as infrared, photoionization, catalytic, and electrochemical, are used to test for differing molecular species. Each method has specifications for resolution, sensitivity, temperature, and humidity range. Gas sensors are most useful when they have high sensitivity and flexibility in the gases they can detect.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Occupancy Sensing Using Wi-Fi Routers

In 2015, commercial and residential buildings accounted for 40% of the energy consumption in the United States according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the owners of these buildings seek to decrease costs and reduce energy consumption they have begun to adopt building energy management systems (BEMS). BEMS have developed alongside intelligent building technologies such as sensors and wireless networks to manage energy usage, and according to expert services firm Navigant, the global BEMS market is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 18.2% to $12.8 Billion in 2025.

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Expert in A Suitcase Cuts Power Bills 10% In Small Commercial Buildings

Sensor Suitcase is designed to make energy efficiency easier.

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. The automated and reusable system combines hardware and software in one package so its users can identify cost-effective measures that can save small commercial buildings about 10 percent on their energy bills. It helps someone with minimal training collect and automatically process building data, which the system uses to generate specific recommendations to improve energy efficiency.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Surgeons Can Feel a Robot's Grip

Thanks to advances in biomedical engineering, the use of robotic systems in surgery has become increasingly common. A clear challenge in robotic surgery, however, is the lack of haptic technology — there have been limitations in the ability to provide force feedback to the surgeon. Because many medical devices and surgical tools such as grippers and laparoscopic instruments do not provide tactile sensation, there has been no definitive way for a surgeon to sense how much force is being applied when using the instrument. This lack of tactile feedback limits the range of surgical techniques and affects the surgeon's dexterity.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors
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Clean Water with Sandia Sensor Solution

A new sensor is the heart of an easy-to-use, table-top tool that quickly and cheaply detects extremely low levels of trihalomethane.

Water utilities have a Goldilocks problem: If they don't add enough chlorine, nasty bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera survive the purification process. Too much chlorine produces disinfection byproducts such as chloroform, which increase cancer risks. The amount of chlorine needs to be “just right” for safe drinking water.

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Project Helps Provide More Precise Detection and Understanding of Seismic Activity In Oklahoma

A network of sensors was used to study what properties lead to induced seismicity.

Induced seismicity is earthquake activity that occurs because of changes in subsurface stress brought about by human activity. Using geology, geophysics, reservoir modeling, and rock mechanics to develop assessment models, this project evaluated the potential for, and increase in, seismic activity in central Oklahoma, including the relationship between oil and gas operations and induced seismicity. The study confirmed and more fully investigated the link between increased seismic activity and wastewater disposal, which significantly increased between July 1, 2014, and the end of 2015. Over the course of the study, more than 95 percent of the earthquakes in Oklahoma occurred in a small portion of the state, where about 70 percent of wastewater was injected.

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Networking the IoT with IEEE 802.15.4/6LoWPAN

The Industrial Internet of Things is predicated on large-scale, distributed sensor/control networks that can run unattended for months to years with very low power consumption. The characteristic behavior of this type of network entails very short bursts of message traffic over short distances using wireless technologies, often described as a low-rate, wireless personal area network (LR-WPAN). We keep the data frames short to lessen the possibility of radio interference forcing the need to retransmit. One such LR-WPAN approach uses the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. This describes a physical layer and media access control that are often used in the industrial control and automation applications referred to as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).

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Flying Metal Detectors?

Navy tests new unmanned mine-detection system.

Scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect buried and submerged mines. Data is collected by sensors aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The information can then be used to create images to display locations of submerged mines on a device such as an Android. The system was demonstrated by successfully identifying a submerged dummy mine and differentiating it from surrounding debris.

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Printed Sensors Monitor Tire Wear in Real Time

Carbon nanotubes bring tire wear monitoring into the car.

Electrical engineers at Duke University have invented an inexpensive printed sensor that can monitor the tread of car tires in real time, warning drivers when the rubber meeting the road has grown dangerously thin. If adopted, the device will increase safety, improve vehicle performance, and reduce fuel consumption.

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