Cool Demos at Sensors Expo

Thu, 06/17/2010 - 8:50am


G HannAt the Sensors Expo, I punched a dummy in the face - literally. A dummy with an accelerometer and wireless network attached to his head, that measured the angular velocity and impact of my punch and then effectively told me that any aspirations I have for a career in prize fighting are a joke. That's what I call making a sensors demo fun.

There is a lot going on here today, and after walking the floor and taking it in there are some key themes that really present themselves - energy harvesting and metering was clearly big, and the TI wireless smart meter monitoring demo with the CC430 was definitely a hit. The team had a great demo of the Chronos (CC430 based) watch and while I personally found it to be fashionably in question there is no denying that the technology is hot - even a competitor of ours was spotted wearing one! The watch is a development kit that enables easy wireless monitoring and communication; Les Taylor from the TI MSP430 team gave a demonstration of controlling his laptop through a two way communication between his PC and his watch. The heartrate monitor integrated into the Chronos watch transmits the users vitals (heart-rate, temperature and pressure) back to the PC - you can find the kit available on and a lot of the sensors attendees seemed pretty excited about it.

The industrial element was in big play as well, and there was no shortage of sensor signal conditioning interest for our PGA280 + ADS1259; an industrial data acquisition chipset that effectively takes +/-15V sensor input signals to a 5V digital output. The PGA280 is a programmable zero-drift amplifier with coarse and fine gain adjust. Details like an integrated 4-channel MUX , plus buffers for over-voltage protection are the kinds of thing that make sensor signal conditioning a little easier. The part was designed to easily interface to the 24-bit ultra-low INL ADS1259, and the team demonstrated the PDK (development kit) and ADC-Pro calibration process.   The TPS7A49 (bipolar LDO family) was another device that showed up at the TI booth today and is just another example of how it's the little things that can make design easy.

TI wasn't the only booth with cool demos though - National Instruments has a booth full of great demos right next to the TI booth, and some of the guys on the team were nice enough to show me their newest WSN (Wireless Sensor Network) platform in a very low power temperature control chamber demo. Using a thermocouple to measure the temperature inside the chamber the WSN captures and analyzes the data  and then initiates a corresponding response from a heating and cooling element to maintain temperature setpoints. Cool things about the WSN - wireless control,  the ever amazing and easy to use LabView interface, and of course my favorite - the fact that the WSN uses the very low power MSP430.

Cool National Instruments Demo:



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