Smart equals sensors inside

Smart technology relies heavily on high-quality sensors

By Claire Marchand

Smartness has become a way of life. Today most of our activities are – at least in part – smart. Whether you work, drive, sleep, enjoy an idle moment, it is most likely that smartness is part of it. We also keep our energy consumption in check with smart appliances and meters. Even our pets now have their own smart devices and apps, allowing us to track their every movement. All this smartness has one common denominator: electronic components and in particular sensors.

automatic pet feeder Automatic pet feeder (Photo: Wireless Whiskers)

Ubiquitous sensors: from phones, tablets…

Remove the sensors inside and your phone or tablet won’t be that smart anymore. The proximity sensor that determines how close the device is to your face or the accelerometer and gyroscope that detect its rotation and movement and allow the switch between landscape and portrait modes are only two of the numerous sensors that equip these devices today. 

…to cars…

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in cars also rely heavily on sensors. Adaptive cruise and light control, blind spot detection, collision avoidance systems, GPS navigation or intelligent speed adaption would not exist without highly sophisticated sensors. 

…health and almost everything

The same goes for thousands of other devices and systems in smart homes, from intelligent household appliances to cameras and sleep pattern monitoring. Wearables not only help you track your workout routine but also have drastically changed the doctor-patient relationship by allowing individuals to monitor some of their vitals at home and share them with their physician. 

Need for safe and reliable components

Sensors and sensor systems are a key underpinning technology for a wide range of applications. They can be used to improve quality control and productivity in manufacturing processes by monitoring variables such as temperature, pressure, flow and composition. They help ensure the environment is clean and healthy by monitoring the levels of toxic chemicals and gases emitted in the air, both locally and – via satellites – globally. They monitor area and regional compliance with environmental standards. They enhance health, safety and security in the home and workplace through their use in air-conditioning systems, fire and smoke detection and surveillance equipment. They play a major role in medical devices, transportation, entertainment equipment and everyday consumer products. 

Technological innovations have brought a new generation of sensors, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). These are smaller, smarter and can be integrated into fixed and portable devices. 

But whatever the size of the sensor, the device has to be accurate and reliable. Whatever it measures, the measurement has to be extremely precise. A defective sensor can have serious consequences, putting human lives in jeopardy. 

Safety in the electronic component supply chain

Sensor manufacturers and suppliers all over the world have a powerful tool at their disposal, enabling their products to meet the strictest requirements: IECQ testing and certification. IECQ is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components. 

As the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards. 

In addition, there are a multitude of related materials and processes that are covered by the IECQ Schemes. IECQ certificates are used worldwide as a tool to monitor and control the manufacturing supply chain, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market, and eliminating the need for multiple re-assessments of suppliers. 

IECQ operates industry specific Certification Schemes: 

For more information: www.iecq.org

Gallery
Collision avoidance system Collision avoidance systems, like all advanced driver assistance systems, rely heavily on sensors (Photo: Ford Motor Company)
Smart skin tattoo Wearables can take the form of skin tattoos that can read and analyze the levels of sodium, glucose and even alcohol in someone’s system (Photo: iDownloadBlog)
automatic pet feeder Automatic pet feeder (Photo: Wireless Whiskers)