Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (3-12-12): Getting in touch with sensors at ESC DESIGN West - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (3-12-12): Getting in touch with sensors at ESC DESIGN West

Embedded Newsletter for 03-12-2012

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March 12, 2012

Tech Focus: Getting in touch with sensors at ESC DESIGN West


Building wireless M2M & IoT sensor networks: issues and challenges

Choosing the best system software architecture for your wireless smart sensor design: Part 1

The challenges of multi-touch gesture interfaces

Choosing sensors: Specsmanship vs. reality

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

Three recent events have changed the complexion of embedded systems design in fundamental ways, opening up significant opportunities – and challenges – to the prepared developer and engineer as it relates to sensor design.

One is the emergence of new touch sensor-based user interfaces. The second as been the emergence of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in a variety of embedded and mobile designs. The third is the proliferation of machine-to-machine wireless sensor networks based on today's WiFi and Zigbee technologies as well as new methods based on the 6LoWPAN extension of IPv6.

Tools, techniques, and training for developers who want to be a part of this new multi-faceted sensor design revolution are front and center at the Sensors In Design Summitat the ESC DESIGN WEST March 26-29 in San Jose, Ca, with 16 classes and four tracks on sensor applications, MEMS, smart sensing, and operation in harsh environments.

A number of recent Embedded.com design articles, webinars, white papers, product and news stories complement what is offered at the ESC Summit. Of these, my Editor's Top Picks are:

Build wireless sensor networks for M2M & IoT embedded apps ,” a four part series this week that goes into detail on the wireless and sensor protocols and building blocks necessary for leading edge designs.
The challenges of multi-touch gesture interfaces
Selecting a wireless sensor development platform
Choosing sensors: specsmanship versus reality
MEMS sensors: when GPS is not enough

Design How-Tos

Building wireless M2M & IoT sensor networks: issues and challenges

In the first of a four part series on implementation of wireless sensor networks, the authors of “Ad hoc wireless networks,” lay out the issues and challenges involved in the design of two different types of network architectures, layered and clustered.

Choosing sensors: Specsmanship vs. reality

Compared with individual parameter specification, the total error band envelope yields results that are more representative of how a sensor will respond in actual use.

The challenges of multi-touch gesture interfaces

The key to understanding multi-touch touch panels is to realize that a touch is not the same thing as a mouse click.

MEMS sensors: When GPS is not enough

Environmentally robust sensor developments are driving a surge in the adoption of MEMS inertial sensors within the industrial, instrumentation and medical markets.

Power efficiency trade-offs key to wireless sensing success

Understand the power efficiency trade-offs in this “hot” application area

Product How-To: The mechanics of capacitive touch sensor interfaces

Atmel's Steve Berry describes the basics of capacitive sensing technologies and how to use the company's Qtouch Studio 4.3 to build GUIs with the equivalent of mechanical buttons, sliders and wheels.

Sensor fusion brings situational awareness to health devices

A data-centric sensor fusion architecture is essential for building situationally-aware applications.

Selecting a Wireless Sensor Development Platform

Anton Hristozov surveys the various wireless sensor development systems and describes the criteria he used to select a 802.15.4 platform for a network project at the University of Pittsburgh.

The basics of adding 802.11n wireless connectivity to your embedded design

K. Venkatesh of Redpine examines the basics of how wireless connectivity based on the IEEE 802.11n standard can be integrated into embedded systems, providing a universal IP based networking that is future-proof, and enabling the 'Internet of Things.'

How to use hover in a user interface

Hover sensing combines self and mutual capacitive sensing to create a mouseover-like functionality in a handheld device, including magnification and simplified text selection. Here are some of the capabilities and applications of hover technology in handheld devices.

Applying the interrupt features of a MEMS accelerometer

Understand how to implement reliable and robust interrupt-based applications using MEMS-based accelerometers

Faster code generation for wireless sensor networks

Wireless sensor networks (WSN) have become a hot research topic and show much promise to become a driver of current and future microelectronic technologies. This emerging technology offers exciting potential for numerous application areas including environmental, medical, military, transportation, entertainment and crisis management.

Achieving the lowest power in wireless sensor networks

Low-power circuit design: Energy harvesting and SOC designs are key to reducing power consumption in autonomous wireless sensor networks.

Gesture recognition–first step toward 3D UIs?

Gesture recognition is the first step to fully 3D interaction with computing devices. The authors outline the challenges and techniques to overcome them in embedded systems.

Choosing the best system software architecture for your wireless smart sensor design: Part 1

Anton Hristozov evaluates the factors you need to consider in selecting the best system software architecture for your embedded wireless sensor Network (WSN) design. First in a three part series.

Embedded Systems Bookshelf


Embedded Books Reading Room
Bernard Cole's favorite links to book excerpts.


Engineer's Bookshelf
Airport fiction blows. A look at books other engineers are reading and why you should read them, too. Recommend and write a review yourself. E-mail Brian Fuller.

Jack Ganssle's Bookshelf
A list of book reviews by Jack Ganssle, contributing technical editor of Embedded Systems Design and Embedded.com.

Max's Cool Beans
Clive “Max” Maxfield, the editor on Programmable Logic DesignLine, often writes about interesting books.


NFC chip to coordinate multiple NFC secure apps on smartphones

STMicroelectronics has unveiled its second-generation Near Field Communications (NFC) controller, the ST21NFCA, claimed to support all NFC use cases. The chip is able to coordinate multiple NFC secure apps stored in several secure locations, such as the SWP-SIM and SWP-microSD Card or Embedded Secure Element.

Server-class OpenVPX blade based on Intel Xeon processor E5-2648L

Mercury Computer Systems Inc. has introduced the HDS6601, a high-density server signal and data processing engine harnessing two of the latest generations of server-class Sandy Bridge octal-core Intel Xeon processors, for demanding applications.

Powering the latest ARM Cortex processors

I just heard from the folks at Texas Instruments about their TPS65k family of Power Management Units (PMUs)…

Atmel extends popular AVR MCU family

14 new devices deliver wider design opportunities to broad range of application areas including consumer electronics, capacitive touch, utility metering, home automation, and medical…

RTI extends publish-subscribe DDS from Mil/Aero into commercial mainstream

With Connext tool suite, Real-Time Innovations's new strategy is to extend its publish-subscribe Distributed Data Service product line beyond Aerospace and Defense to a variety of industrial and commercial applications and beyond device designers to IT systems developers.

EnOcean rolls starter kit to develop energy-autonomous wireless sensors

EnOcean GmbH has introduced the ESK 300 starter kit that is said to simplify the testing and development of energy harvesting wireless solutions for OEM partners


Internet Protocol infiltrates low-power machine-to-machine networks

The 6LoWPAN work is opening low-power wireless networks to IP traffic, with interesting consequences.

Moving toward an open-standard platform for M2M development

Eurotech is at the forefront of developing an open-standard platform for M2M software development, using the lightweight publish/subscribe MQTT protocol, along with Java and Eclipse.

SPI, shoelaces and the future of wireless sensor design

The Serial Peripheral Interface bus seems to be headed for wide-spread use in next generation wireless sensor designs, despite the fact that there there is no Special Interest Group or IEEE committee that maintains a formal separate 'specification', guides its development and promotes its use.

UDP and the embedded wireless Internet of Things

The creation of the 6LoWPAN wireless extension to the IPv6 promises a wealth of opportunities for creating an embedded “Internet of Things.” But to take advantage of them means solving some significant problems as well.

Do machines dream of IoT?

Peter Clarke thinks about what is necessary for a life-changing transition that is coming to planet earth.

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