Sensors are the heart of the Internet of Things (IoT). From smart home technology and the office, to the outdoors and the smart factory, these tiny microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and chips power all of the budding applications that are changing the digital landscape.
While once used for strictly industrial or automotive applications, the IoT has expanded the use cases for sensors, significantly bringing along with it more connectivity and analytics to these applications.
Smart sensors capture data from the environment or person and an associated microprocessor is used to communicate the data to action. As environmental monitoring has increased, sensors have become essential for applications such as monitoring temperature and humidity for the Industrial IoT (IIoT), logging data records and quality management in smart factories, monitoring living spaces as part of a security system, detecting weather changes for both industry and the home, and much more.
There are different types of sensors for different applications.
Temperature sensors measure heat energy and detect changes in temperature. These can be used in agriculture to monitor crop growth or in smart homes or offices to maintain a healthy environment.
Humidity sensors measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. These can be used in HVAC systems for both industrial and residential domains.
Pressure sensors measure pressure changes and communicate those results to connected systems. Barometric pressure sensors can be used to detect changes in the atmosphere to help predict weather patterns and changes. These can also be used to detect changes in altitude, based on barometric pressure.
UV Index sensors measure the strength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation for use cases such as wearables, smartphones, tablets and weather station equipment.
Accelerometers detect an object’s acceleration and changes to gravity. These are used for anything from smart watches and pedometers, to theft detection and driving fleets.
Noise sensors are designed for hospitals, hotels, smart cities and residential buildings. They measure ambient noise in a zone and make sound adjustments based on this measurement. These sensors also help in noise pollution detection.
Light sensors measure the lux level in the surrounding environment. These can help give an idea of an environment’s relative brightness, in order to establish a proper comfort level.
The rise of environmental sensors
Changing environmental regulations to reduce air pollution and increase health and safety has given rise to high demand for environmental monitoring systems and the technology that powers them.
According to market research firm Markets and Markets, environmental sensor revenue is set to increase to $2.19 billion by 2023, up from $1.37 billion in 2018. This growth is due to shifting preferences from standalone sensors to those that can handle multiple measurements in one device such as humidity, temperature, dust, UV radiation and other environmental measurements. This market is also rising because of environmental sensor integration into consumer devices, where small size and low power consumption are a must.