SST Introduces Screw-Fit Oxygen Sensor to Further Enhance User Convenience

SST Sensing Ltd., the leading supplier of advanced gas and fluid sensing technology, continues to expand its portfolio of high accuracy oxygen sensor devices. The Zirconia Screw Fit Housing option provides engineers with the basis for a simple to implement solution, where only the sensor head itself is exposed to the sample gas environment. All of the supporting electronics can thus be kept away from sources of potential harm and long term reliable operation ensured.

 Supplied in an M18 x 1.5mm mounting threaded housing, with a robust stainless steel construction, the device can cope with extreme temperature levels (from -100°C up to 250°C). This makes it highly suitable for combustion control within industrial coal/oil/gas/biomass boilers, continuous emission monitoring systems and accelerated composting applications. Supporting an oxygen pressure range of 2mbar to 3bar, it has a 5mbar accuracy and maintains strong linearity across its entire temperature range. The sensor has a rapid response time (<4secs) and covers oxygen concentrations of 0.1% to 25%.

 To accompany this sensor, SST offers the OXY-LC high performance interface board, which incorporates all the processing electronics necessary to address the application’s specific requirements, as well as powering the sensor itself.

Based on zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), SST’s oxygen sensors attain industry-leading performance specifications. By combining Nernst Effect and oxygen ion pump sensing mechanisms, the need for a sealed reference gas and frequent calibration is eliminated – thereby resulting in more compact, easy to install systems with prolonged trouble-free lifespans that are not subject to sensor depletion. www.sstsensing.com



More Effective Fall Detection Using Wrist-Worn Technology

Advances in healthcare mean that the western world has an elderly population that is significantly growing in number. This demographic segment now represents a larger proportion of society, as people’s life expectancies have become more prolonged than they were in previous generations. Rather than being in care homes, many senior citizens want to reside in their own accommodation for as long as possible and thus enjoy a better quality of life. It must be recognised that this desire for continued independent living has major consequences though.

Older people are at significantly greater risk of falls and these falls can potentially result in serious injury. Academic studies on geriatric emergency care have revealed that approximately 30% of the over 65 age bracket have a fall at least once a year and nearly 50% of these people will suffer further falls over the course of that time period.

Emergency systems that are already utilised to react to these circumstances, such as home medical alarms, tend to be costly to implement and are quite complex too. Each of the mechanisms involved will take time to perform and this results in delays that slow down the response process considerably. Other systems which are activated by pressing the button on a device worn around the neck or on the hip, can be inconvenient for the user as they carry out everyday tasks. Furthermore, because of their positioning on the body, they can cause additional injuries to the wearer during a fall. There is thus a growing need to create wearable alarm devices that are less intrusive for elderly people.

The placement of an alarm device on the wrist has shown itself to be a better option. This is much more comfortable from a user perspective (as most people are accustomed to wearing a watch there). Its location (with the user’s arm generally at their side) is close to the body’s centre of gravity and can thereby accurately determine the nature of the body’s movements (differentiating between a fall and other activities). Plus, of course, the wrist is easy to reach after a fall has occurred.

To be fully effective, such a wrist-worn device will need to possess the following attributes:

  • Some form of detection apparatus, with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Supporting electronics – so that the alarm is activated automatically if a fall incident is detected, but the user is no longer conscious to do so themselves.
  • The capability to forward the alarm to a smartphone, so that the emergency services can rapidly be informed of the situation.
  • A manually-operated alarm button, allowing the user to alert the emergency services directly or cancel the alarm should it have been triggered by mistake.
  • An energy efficient display that can be used to access the time, as well as displaying the alarm.
  • Finally, the device should be both water and impact resistant, so that it does not have to be removed at any point during the day.

A prototype wrist-worn fall detector, which covers all of these elements and showcases the advantages of this type of monitoring hardware, has recently been developed by a research team at FH Aachen, University of Applied Sciences. The device incorporates leading-edge semiconductor technology from Toshiba, as well as highly sophisticated fall detection algorithms.

The basis of this device is a RBTZ1011-4MA. board, which incorporates the TZ1011MBG processor with an ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, 24-bit data conversion functionality and digital signal processing. The board has 3 different types of sensor, each supporting high accuracy 16-bit operation and detecting along all 3 axes. These are an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer.

To learn more about this ground-breaking monitoring device and Toshiba’s high performance processor technology click here:



J-Trace PRO for Cortex-M: Ready to trace and profile in just 15 minutes


In order to make it easy to get true instruction trace up and running, SEGGER has just introduced the new Cortex-M Trace reference board. This compact board now ships with every J-Trace PRO for Cortex-M. It can also be purchased apart from the J-Trace PRO unit, so every customer can take advantage of the new reference board.


By referring to the detailed tutorial on the SEGGER web site https://www.segger.com/ozone-trace-tutorial.html, engineers can experience streaming trace, real-time code profiling and code coverage in less than 15 minutes. This includes the time to download and install all necessary software. It effectively means that it has never been easier to gain access to a true ETM trace.


“Embedded systems have grown in complexity on a massive scale in recent years. IoT has given this development another boost, yet still most developers do not use trace probes. We believe that the main reason for this is the complexity of the tools. The perception is that it is too difficult to get trace up and running. With Ozone, J-Trace PRO and the new reference board, SEGGER raises the bar when it comes to user experience: It simply works,” says Rolf Segger, founder of SEGGER Microcontroller.


To access more information on the J-Trace PRO endless live trace go to: www.segger.com/jtrace-pro-streaming-trace.html


Intelligent module in compact form factor provides rapid & cost effective embedded connectivity


EDS 2016 - Stand J2

19th-20th October

Ricoh Arena, Coventry


 Supporting the ongoing proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the engineering team at Solid State Supplies Ltd is able to assist system developers in the quick and simple implementation of wireless connectivity with minimal expense, through use of the latest system-on-module (SOM) solution from Digi.


Possessing an elevated degree of integration, the ConnectCore® for i.MX6UL has dimensions of just 29mm x 29mm x 3.75mm – making it significantly smaller than other SOMs currently on the market. This compactness allows it to be placed in the most space constrained of application environments. At the heart of each of these modules is an NXP i.MX6UL application processor with an energy efficient, performance-optimised 32-bit ARM Cortex A7 core. The module has an expansive connectivity resource, which comprises pre-certified dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 4.1, plus dual-Ethernet. It can be offered with up to 2GB of built-in NAND Flash memory and 1GB of DDR3 memory.


Employment of Digi’s proprietary SMTplus™ surface mount mechanism for either LGA or castellated edge interconnection results in enhanced design flexibility and greater convenience. The module also incorporates Digi’s TrustFence™ functionality, which furnishes engineers with a highly effective security framework that facilitates the process of protecting the connected devices they are developing from potential security threats. Among the various features included are local file system, access-controlled internal/external ports, enterprise-level data encryption, tamper proofing and device integrity monitoring. The module’s operating system uses the Linux Yocto open source platform. A -40°C to +85°C operational temperature range is supported. To accompany the modules, and further aid design and deployment, Solid State Supplies has ConnectCore for i.MX6UL starter kits and development kits. These items contain all the hardware necessary for preliminary evaluation and prototyping. 


“Needing only minimal footprint, this streamlined, low-profile, connector-less module delivers seamless integration of wireless connectivity at a very attractive price point. It will give engineers a foundation on which to build imaginative wirelessly connected systems.” states Solid State Supplies’ Business Development Manager Matt Cook. “As a result of its ease of use and inherent versatility, plus its robust construction, ConnectCore for i.MX6UL is very well aligned to a broad spectrum of connectivity-focussed application scenarios where exposure to harsh physical conditions may need to be dealt with – including industrial control, healthcare, agricultural monitoring, building automation and transportation.”   


Matt Cook will be giving a presentation on ConnectCore® for i.MX6UL at the company’s stand during EDS. During the course of this 15 minute presentation, he will be detailing the many attributes of this SOM that make it highly suited to IoT implementation. There will also be the opportunity to handle samples of this device along with the supporting development kits/tools. 


In search of a quieter life – combatting noise and vibration via innovations in motor control

To meet the pressing need for elevated levels of energy efficiency, the conventional direct current (DC) motors incorporated into electric fans, domestic appliances, air conditioning systems, office equipment and such like, have over time been replaced by more sophisticated three-phase brushless DC (BLDC) motors. This has enabled compliance with the stringent international environmental guidelines that have now emerged, as well as helping to reduce the size of utility bills. In addition to minimising the degree of power dissipation witnessed, these applications mandate that the motors utilised are able to keep both acoustic noise and vibrations to a minimum. The need to accomplish this has prompted a migration from away from square wave motion control and resulted in greater implementation of sine wave control. To maximise motor performance, sine wave control requires phase adjustment between motor voltage and motor current. However, this has meant that realising high efficiency over a wide range of rotational speeds often proves to be a long drawn out and complex process.

Fixed lead angle BLDC motor control arrangements have been supplanted by ones which automatically control of the lead angle. Nevertheless these arrangements still have their drawbacks in terms of the lead angle needing to be set for each specific motor based on a variety of different factors. The emergence of more advanced lead angle control technology is showing its effectiveness at delivering energy efficient motor operation (with 20% power savings compared to alternative solutions), plus low vibration and low noise, across the full breadth of rotational speeds (rather than having to focus on optimisation at either low speed or high speed).

Toshiba has published a detailed white paper on next generation BLDC motor control. To download click here: http://toshiba.semicon-storage.com/eu/design-support/innovationcentre/whitepapers/tcm0200_MotorControl.html


The real evolution behind the driverless car revolution

There is no doubt that the revolution in personal transportation is coming – driverless cars will be the future. This revolution-in-the-making has been coming for some time, millions if not billions of dollars have been spent and there is much more research, development and most importantly, testing and proving to come.

Personal transportation is so embedded in almost everyone’s daily life – fundamental changes rarely happen overnight – the segment is just too big, with too many players and there is so much at stake but, nevertheless, one day driverless cars will be commonplace.

In the meantime, behind this revolution, there is a quieter evolution happening. Little glimpses of the future are finding their way into the cars we drive today. Even those of us with relatively modest budgets may well have a car with the ability to warn us if we’re becoming drowsy at the wheel, or drifting out of lane, or managing the car’s headlights.

With todays ever more congested highways, adaptive cruise control allows us to safely follow the traffic, maintaining a safe distance and stopping us when needed. GPS systems are pre-programmed with speed restrictions, but nowadays some cars have the ability to actively read road signs, or detect pedestrians in you path and warn you or take immediate and appropriate action.

All of these features are small steps towards the bigger picture of the driverless car – but the key difference is that these are available today on a mid range car which is being sold in your town – today.

Enabling these Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is an exciting new image processing technology from Toshiba based around scalable low-power processor architectures. To learn more about how Toshiba is leading the way in this field, please click here: http://toshiba.semicon-storage.com/eu/design-support/innovationcentre/whitepapers/tcm0025_ADAS.html


X-FAB to Acquire Assets of Altis Semiconductor

 X-FAB Silicon Foundries has today announced that it will acquire the assets of Altis Semiconductor, a specialty stand-alone foundry located in the Greater Paris area, out of insolvency proceedings.With both companies serving complementary markets and applications, this acquisition enriches X-FAB’s offering. It roughly doubles the company’s 8-inch capacity to meet the growing demand for its manufacturing technologies, as well as significantly increasing its European footprint. Based on the characteristics of X-FAB’s technologies and end markets, the acquisition also ensures the long-term existence and development of the site in Corbeil-Essonnes and, as part of a larger group, will also enhance its competitiveness. It is part of X-FAB’s strategy to strongly invest in R&D activities for the development of proprietary technologies, which will also apply to the new site.

Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-FAB Group, said: “We are very glad about the decision taken by the court and appreciate the trust that has been placed upon us. I am convinced that this acquisition will be of benefit for all parties involved with Altis Semiconductor being a perfect fit for X-FAB on our way to becoming the foundry of choice for the analog world. It enables us to quickly expand our capacities to meet rising customer demand. With our proven track record in integrating and developing new sites, we will make every effort to ensure a smooth transition of the former Altis operation into the X-FAB Group providing a sustainable future for the site.”

The assets will be transferred into the newly founded X-FAB France SAS. The completion of the acquisition is subject to local laws and regulations and customary closing conditions. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


Steatite battery division wins prestigious Panasonic award

Creasefield Ltd, part of Steatite Ltd, is delighted to announce that for consecutive years their value-added battery distribution has been recognised by Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe GmbH (PAISEU). The award, which is presented to the top performing European companies, is based on a number of factors including sales performance, support, communication and stock holding, and firmly places Creasefield as a leading Panasonic distributor.


During the course of PAISEU’s 28th Family Battery Meeting, which was held in Prague, Johannes Spatz, Executive Vice President of PAISEU, provided an opening address detailing Panasonic’s plans for continued growth in Europe and praised the support and contribution of the European Battery Distribution Network. The meeting, attended by 42 battery partners and a strong technical and executive representation from Panasonic, presented new products and provided a technical roadmap for future cell developments.


“The combined business of Steatite and Creasefield will benefit our customers, offering enhanced technical capability and significant UK based design and production facilities. This will improve the level of service to our customers,” commented Paul Edwards, Director of Steatite’s Batteries Division. “We are proud to work with highly respected cell suppliers such as Panasonic who provide us with class-leading Lithium, NiMh and Alkaline cells for our battery builds. These cells offer premium performance and safety. There are some exciting Panasonic cell developments that we look forward to working on with our customers on new projects. We are delighted to receive this award which confirms our company as a leading battery pack manufacturer. We are optimistic that our relationship will continue to grow with the Panasonic team through 2017.”



ETSI brings virtualization of telecommunication networks closer with announcement of NFV Release 2

ETSI has today announced the availability of the NFV Release 2 specifications, delivering requirements, interfaces and information models for Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV). This underlines the significant progress made in the development and future utilization of NFV technology. Undertaken by the ETSI Industry Specification Group on NFV (ETSI ISG NFV) now covering an expansive range of core activities, the successful completion of the specifications from the Release 2 roadmap will move the telecommunication sector closer to the goal of a more agile, flexible and cost-effective network infrastructure.   


Building on the ETSI ISG NFV documentation that was published in late 2014, NFV Release 2 incorporates 11 new group specifications, in addition to the many NFV specifications already published. These detail the various requirements, interface descriptions and information models enabling interoperability of solutions based on the ETSI NFV Architectural Framework. Release 2 outlines the necessary functional requirements in relation to a wide set of functional areas, such as the management of virtualized resources, lifecycle management of both network services and virtualized network functions, network service fault/performance management, virtualized resource capacity management, etc.

“This represents another major step towards our objective of defining a comprehensive set of specifications that will facilitate the deployment of NFV throughout the telecommunication industry, with significant benefits being subsequently derived in many interrelated sectors,” states Telefonica’s Diego Lopez, the newly appointed Chairman of ETSI NFV ISG. Through the collaborative efforts of all parties involved in the ETSI NFV ISG, we have been able to identify and define the required capabilities, following a practical approach that leverages proofs of concept to explore and demonstrate what was proposed. The combination of wide consensus and experimental evidence has led to NFV being recognized as a completely viable and highly valuable technology. This has allowed us to make progresses at a fast pace.”

“By drawing upon the combined merits of a well-defined standards structure and the support of the open source community, we have been able to accelerate the development process and ensure widespread interoperability,” Lopez continues. “I am therefore confident that the ETSI NFV Architectural Framework will be the foundation upon which future virtualization of the network is established – enabling cost effective allocation of resources and the rapid addition of new services, while still ensuring the highest degrees of security and reliability, as well as painless and seamless  integration with existing infrastructure.”  


Sophisticated Power Management IC Pushes Performance Envelope & Enables More Effective Energy Harvesting

Following its arrival on the power semiconductor scene earlier this year, e-peas today announces commercial availability of its first IC. The AEM10940 utilizes the company’s unique proprietary energy management technology in order to maximize the efficiency with which electronic hardware draws energy from the ambient environment. This device, which is now in full scale production, is set to have major implications for the various power-frugal sensing applications currently emerging – including those covering all aspects of the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technology, home automation, industrial monitoring and wireless geolocation, etc.


The highly integrated AEM10940 comprises an ultra-low power boost converter (exhibiting industry-leading 94% efficiency levels), along with voltage reference, energy management and LDO regulator elements. Thanks to its innovative cold-start circuitry, the device can be brought into active operation even when there is minimal energy left – an input voltage of just 380mV and a mere 11μW of power proving to be more than sufficient.


The IC harvests available input power up to 50mW from an allocated energy source, such as a photovoltaic cell. Its boost converter (which has an input voltage range that spans from 100mV to 2.5V) exploits this for the rapid charging of any connected energy storage reserve, such as a Li-Ion battery, thin film battery, or conventional-/super-capacitor. It enables the charge rate to be almost 3x that of alternative solutions currently on the market.


The 2 embedded LDO regulators deliver close to 98% current efficiency across a broad load range. Respectively, these have a low voltage and a high voltage supply associated with them. The low voltage supply (1.8V), which can provide up to 10mA load current, is typically used to drive the system’s microcontroller. Meanwhile the high voltage supply, which is configurable between 2.2V and 4.2V, can sustain up to 80mA of load current and will normally take care of tasks like powering the system’s wireless transceiver (which could be based, for example, on either BLE, Zigbee, SigFox or LoRa).


In addition to its superior efficiency and cold-start capabilities, what also really differentiates the AEM10940 is the wealth of functionality incorporated directly into the IC – with the dual-regulated output in particular underlining the high degree of integration. The resulting sub-system utilizes only limited footprint on a PCB and requires just a handful of external passive/discrete components. This means that in addition to costs, the engineering effort needed to undertake development is curbed considerably.


“The AEM10940 will be pivotal in meeting the demands of a host of new systems where every mJ of energy is certain to be precious. The versatility of this IC means it will work with all types of DC energy harvesting apparatus and all types of energy storage technology,” explains Thierry Keutgen, Product Marketing Director of e-peas. “Through its specification engineering teams will be able to dramatically lengthen their systems’ battery lives. In many cases, it will even permit the elimination of the primary energy storage resource completely, thereby resulting not only in significant space savings being derived, but also avoiding the heavy expense of carrying out maintenance work in what are often inaccessible places.”


The AEM10940 is supplied in a compact 24-pin QFN package. For more information, visit: http://e-peas.com/products/energy-harvesting

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