The 2019 Sensors Expo and Conference will be held at the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA from June 25 – 27. Both the expo and conference are excellent opportunities to get a good sense of important sensor trends. Among the wide variety of themes at the conference, some strike me as being very significant for the current state of the industry.

5G connectivity will “deliver new levels of performance and efficiency” that the sensors industry should be preparing for right now. This will the theme of the keynote to be delivered by Gerardo Giaretta of Qualcomm Technologies. 5G will deliver a massive expansion of the IoT, raising issues of efficient high-speed connectivity/networking and edge processing. Along these lines, Michael Anderson, of The PTR Group, will give a talk in session IoT5 on how Bluetooth mesh networking extension creates a new paradigm for low power communications over extended distances with a many-to-many capability over Bluetooth low-energy links. [See his article on this subject in the March 2019 issue of Sensor Technology]. Pelle Svensson, of u-blox AG, will report in session SC2 on a technology study of the actual performance of a Bluetooth mesh network containing several hundred nodes.

The more extensive and complex networking becomes, the more important it will be to enhance computing at the edge to minimize the bandwidth needed to carry increased data loads. This raises a host of issues for sensors, some of which will be addressed in a pre-conference symposium on energy harvesting and energy efficiency. In session EP4, Cynthia Sosa of Texas Instruments will be giving a talk on how to optimize circuits for power, cost, size, and economy — an absolute necessity for smart sensors and edge computing.

One of the other themes that caught my attention, was printed/flexible/bendable sensors. A workshop entitled Next Generation: Printed Sensors will highlight the expanding market for printed sensors driven by the desire for more information delivery in areas like the IoT, Big Data, and edge computing. Carrying this theme forward into practical realms, Pre-Conference Symposium 4 will present case studies of the design and manufacture of fabric-based sensors. The MEMS 1 session will discuss the low power-consumption of MEMS sensors; MEMS 2 will discuss pressure sensors for wearable and IoT applications; and MEMS 3 will focus on system integration of sensors with flexible, conformable substrates, which will be important for a “host of new product innovations.”

In session SA4, industry consultant Roger Grace will provide an overview of current and future applications for these sensors, including examples from current suppliers and highlights from leading international research organizations.

Along with sessions and keynotes, Sensors Expo will showcase a variety of technologies from leading vendors. Here is a preview of some of the new products that will be featured in the Sensors Expo Exhibit Hall.

— Ed Brown, Sensor Technology Editor