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Industrial Automation Asia speaks with Vishal Goyal, Senior Technical Marketing at STMicroelectronics, to gather insights regarding sensors in smart industries. 

Could you tell us about the latest trends in technology for sensor accuracy?

Sensors can offer better results and more significant energy savings when they become a lot smarter—and STMicroelectronics is helping them move in that direction. One example is an inertial sensor that includes a Machine Learning Core (MLC) and a Finite State Machine (FSM). A revolutionary aspect of this sensor is that it has an embedded Machine Learning Core. Engineers can configure specific parameters of the decision tree with Weka, an open source collection of machine learning algorithms.

Instead of using a host microcontroller (MCU) to run an algorithm and draw conclusions from the available data, which demands much energy, the Machine Learning Core in the sensor can run an inductive algorithm at a fraction of the power consumption. As a result, the system can recognise specific activities, carry positions, or count steps, by observing the users’ movements and inferring from pre-defined patterns.

The LSM6DSOX supports main OS requirements, offering real, virtual and batch sensors with 9kb for dynamic data batching. It supports several event-based interrupts, Finite State Machine (FSM) for accelerometer, gyroscope, and external sensors and even Machine Learning Core (MLC).

The LSM6DSOX fully supports EIS and OIS applications as the module includes a dedicated configurable signal processing path for OIS and auxiliary SPI, configurable for both the gyroscope and accelerometer. High robustness to mechanical shock makes the LSM6DSOX the preferred choice of system designers for the creation and manufacturing of reliable products.

 

What are the newest innovations from STMicroelectronics?

STMicroelectronics continues to innovate new sensors and technology which are ultra-low power, low noise, more accurate and higher performance. Our new sensors are easy to design, implement and even calibrate.

One such example is the inclinometer IIS3DHHC. The IIS3DHHC is an ultra-low noise, high-stability three-axis linear accelerometer. The sensing element is manufactured using a dedicated micromachining process developed by STMicroelectronics to produce inertial sensors and actuators on silicon wafers. The IC interface is produced using a CMOS process that allows a high level of integration to design a dedicated circuit which is trimmed to match the characteristics of the sensing element better. The IIS3DHHC is available in a high-performance (low-stress) ceramic cavity land grid array (CC LGA) package and can operate within a temperature range of -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius.

The LPS35HW is a water and chemical resistant ultra-compact piezo-resistive pressure sensor which functions as a digital output barometer. The sensing element, which detects absolute pressure, consists of a suspended membrane manufactured using a dedicated process developed by ST. The LPS35HW is available in a holed ceramic LGA package. It is guaranteed to operate over a temperature range extending from -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius. The package is holed to allow external pressure to reach the sensing element. The gel inside the IC protects the electrical components from harsh environmental conditions.

 

What is the landscape and applications of such sensors in Asia?

Asia not only has the biggest manufacturing facility in the world but it also houses big and small R&D centres. All the major companies related to sensor business are present in India.

Some of the applications where our sensors are used are mobile-phones, wearables, drones, shared bikes, automobiles, toys, telecom antennae, printers, tracking devices and home appliances. Also, sensors are proliferating in several Industrial applications. Some Industrial applications are vibration monitoring, theft detection and environmental monitoring.

We have a strong team present across Asia to support our customers irrespective of locations. We not only support our customers with sensors but leverage our presence in microcontrollers, connectivity, and power management devices.

 

What are the limitations of using intelligent sensors in Southeast Asia countries and how can they be overcome?

Geographically, Southeast Asia is a very wide region, and customers are spread all over. Most of the customers in Southeast Asia are small and medium-sized enterprises.

Our strategy is to bring a different solution to customers and make these solutions easy to use so customers can solve their problems quickly. STMicroelectronics is giving them reference solutions and actual demos, to make them understand the solutions completely so that they can implement it into their business.

STMicroelectronics Open.MEMS licensing programme offers our customers an easy way to evaluate, program and play with sensors, speeding up product development and shortening time-to-development.

We have developed several design enablement hardware such as Nucleo boards and SensorTile. We complement our hardware with software, firmware and GUI tools such as Unico, Unicleo, X-cube-MEMS, AlgoBuilder. Besides, we even provide the source code of Android and iOS Apps. These design enablements make customer independent in evaluating and design products based on STMicroelectronics sensors with little support from us.

Southeast Asia is a mass market region, and STMicroelectronics is supporting it by its advanced technology and unique propositions.

 

Moving forward, what do you think is the outlook for sensors in smart industries?

Smart industries will drive the demand of sensors which are smart, intelligent, accurate and reliable. They would be used to address several challenges such as predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, workers’ safety, theft control and achieving excellence.

STMicroelectronics is enriching its sensor portfolio to address automotive and industrial markets while maintaining leadership in the consumer segments and is well positioned to ride the wave of IoT and Smart Driving with its micro-actuators.

STMicroelectronics has a strategic focus on analogue for Industrial applications. STMicroelectronics is extending its commitment to markets for advanced industrial technology, leveraging investment in consumer MEMS sensors. The new industrial sensors covered by 10-year longevity commitment support long time-in-market and service lifetimes that characterise industrial products.

 

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