Editor’s note: In research for the TechAloft Newsletter, we found several companies that are working with sensors and data fusion. Although they have not entered the EChallenge, we offer their accomplishments as exemplars in the field.
Mouser Electronics of Texas is a distributor of semiconductors and electronic components. The company makes sensors for many uses.
“An unattended pump operating in a remote location is always at some risk of failing” Mouser says on its website. “A few years ago, a remote sensor may have been in place to identify if it were running hot or had even failed. Now, the same pump can also be monitored for vibration, exhaust chemistry, bearing noise, and the external conditions around it. The system would also know in advance whether it is likely that the entire pump must be replaced or just a component. The same general idea applies to monitoring an aircraft engine in flight, a building elevator, or just about anything mechanical.”
Much of Mouser’s research is concentrated on use of the cloud to store data and efficiently disseminate information.
Companies like Mouser and Mouser’s partners would be ideal candidates to help satisfy the requirements of the 8th Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge, which is looking for a system of sensor data fusion able to gather and identify information from all parts of an aircraft, from blade integrity to virtually every function while airborne. It would be robust and muscular, while using as few onboard resources (power and weight) as possible.
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have announced a June 14 webinar that will provide the details behind the IoT tech that the companies are looking for in the 8th Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge. On this webinar, top Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin technical leaders will take participants through their needs for robust IoT technology in the areas of Sensor communication, On-Sensor processing (Sensor Fusion), and Next Generation Wireless Communication.
All finalists get a chance to discuss their solution and ideally develop relationships with the appropriate engineering teams at Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin. Top awardee receives $25K in non-dilutive funding. Please encourage your portfolio companies to consider applying for this unique program.
Through the Entrepreneurial Challenge, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin identify potential collaborators that can help solve some of the toughest industry challenges.
Awardees will gain entry to an extensive network of technical experts, business mentors, strategic team members, potential customers and experienced investors. Previous IoT related awardees include companies in the area of battery storage and wireless electricity.
A cognitive radio does appear to think, if you include sensing, choosing and observation to be within the realm of thinking. A cognitive radio searches for unused frequencies through which it sends information. While traditional radio transmitters are confined to a specific regulated frequency, cognitive radios, using software based on algorithms, can switch signals to the unused spaces between used frequencies.
Several companies are developing solutions based on cognitive radio, with a goal of providing continuous communications in any type of environment.
Filling white space with information Shared Spectrum Company, also called SSC, is based in Vienna, Virginia. It has been a pioneer in the development of a protocol called Dynamic Spectrum Access.
The IEEE describes DSA as a spectrum-sharing paradigm that allows so-called secondary users to fill the holes or “white spaces” between licensed bands. A cognitive radio finds the unused bands and connects multiple users.
The result could be lower costs for communication systems within relatively small areas, such as buildings, but it could also be used to ensure that communication during difficult situations, such as weather events or combat, continues without disruption.
A cognitive radio solution could provide a competitive solution for one of the focus areas in the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge now underway. While increased use of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum creates multi-path and fading issues, solving those problems could lead to new communication breakthroughs.
Increase the number of antennae to improve reliability
There are other potential solutions to extend and harden communications systems as well.
A company named Nutaq of Canada makes equipment that exploits multiple antenna, or MIMO, technology. The software for such a multi-node system must be able to efficiently transfer signals via the most efficient connections in order to not use too much energy or increase costs, but its use of hundreds or thousands of antennas makes it incredibly robust because communications can be maintained even if some antennas are lost.
Nutac is also advancing high-speed networks that connect sensors and communicate information they gather via wireless and wired Internet connections.
If you can fix the subway…
The New York subway system isn’t exactly a war zone but it is the scene of vibration, noise, moisture (during power washing), dust and temperature spikes. A company called SOLiD, of Sunnyvale, California, uses Distributed Antenna Systems, an array of smaller nodes that cover the same area as one larger antenna. The nodes, attached to subway platform ceilings, use less power but are more reliable and can serve more customers.
If you think you have a solution to the EChallenge’s Focus Area No. 2, Adaptive Communications for Assured Data Exchange, apply today. You may become a partner with Sikorsky in the next manufacturing innovation.
Although materials used in the construction of components for modern aircraft are built for durability, the extreme conditions sometimes imposed on them create the potential for part failure. Thus the need for increasingly sophisticated systems to monitor the health of the machines and their parts.
As the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health reported in a publication called “Overview of Fiber Optic Sensor Technologies for Strain/Temperature Sensing Applications in Composite Materials,” the threat of material failure “necessitates the requirement for non-destructive structural health monitoring techniques throughout the lifetime of the composite structural part.”
This report examines the characteristics of fiber optics, which are low-cost and can be embedded in materials and continue to send information while monitoring strain and temperature in extreme conditions in issues such as such as bend loading in aircraft wings.
The Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge is looking to reward advances in sensors that remain robust in extreme operational temperature range, wet, high vibration while measuring strain, vibration, temperature and other modalities. Learn more about the E-Challenge guidelines here.
Remote sensors make it possible to collect information from numerous hard-to-reach points for analysis. As the machines being measured become more complex and sensors collect more information, compiling the data into a coherent report that can be quickly understood increases dramatically. The only way to efficiently gather, translate and act on information in a fast-moving environment, says Dr. Ram D. Sriram, is for humans and computers to work together. Sriram, chief of Software and Systems Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, spoke at the 2016 conference on Ontological Approaches to Sensor Data Analysis. He predicted a future of biological, cognitive, semantic and social networks that will constantly sense, monitor, interpret and control our environment.
“A key technical challenge for realizing the ‘Internet of Everything’ is that the network consists of things (both devices and humans) which are heterogeneous, yet need to be interoperable,” Sriram said. “In other words devices and people need to interoperate in a seamless manner.”
NOTE: This article is a reprint from the 3/30 edition of our bi-weekly TechAloft Newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
Several of Sikorsky’s top engineers will participate in a webinar on April 22 to dig into the details of the 7th Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge. The webinar will take place at noon, EST. Interested parties can register here: bit.ly/EChallenge2016
Participating leaders from Sikorsky include:
Nick Lappos, Senior Technical Fellow, Advanced Technology
David Walsh, Technical Fellow, Flight Test
Ryan Patry, Staff Engineer, Advanced Manufacturing
Joseph Simonetti, Technical Fellow, Propulsion
Following the prepared remarks, the public will be invited to ask their own questions of the experts. Questions can also be submitted in advance to email@example.com.
For more information, or to apply to the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge, please visit www.sikorsky.com/echallenge.
“The remarkable innovation and growth we’ve witnessed in land-based wireless communications has not yet occurred in underwater sensing networks, but we’re starting to change that.” — Dimitris Pados, Clifford C. Furnas Professor of Electrical Engineering UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Like Beanie Babies and Steve Urkel, the systems we use to transmit information through water bring to mind the 1990s.
The flashback is due to the speed of today’s underwater communication networks, which is comparable to the sluggish dial-up modems from America Online’s heyday. The shortcoming hampers search-and-rescue operations, tsunami detection and other work.
But that is changing due in part to University at Buffalo engineers who are developing hardware and software tools to help underwater telecommunication catch up to its over-the-air counterpart.
“The remarkable innovation and growth we’ve witnessed in land-based wireless communications has not yet occurred in underwater sensing networks, but we’re starting to change that,” says Dimitris Pados, PhD, Clifford C. Furnas Professor of Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB, a co-author of the study.
The amount of data that can be reliably transmitted underwater is much lower compared to land-based wireless networks. This is because land-based networks rely on radio waves, which work well in the air, but not so much underwater.
As a result, sound waves (such as the noises dolphins and whales make) are the best alternative for underwater communication. The trouble is that sound waves encounter such obstacles as path loss, delay and Doppler which limit their ability to transmit. Underwater communication is also hindered by the architecture of these systems, which lack standardization, are often proprietary and not energy-efficient.
Pados and a team of researchers at UB are developing hardware and software –everything from modems that work underwater to open-architecture protocols – to address these issues. Of particular interest is merging a relatively new communication platform, software-defined radio, with underwater acoustic modems.
Traditional radios, such as an AM/FM transmitter, operate in a limited bandwidth (in this case, AM and FM). The only way to pick up additional signals, such as sound waves, is to take the radio apart and rewire it. Software-defined radio makes this step unnecessary. Instead, the radio is capable via computer of shifting between different frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is, in other words, a “smart” radio.
Applying software-defined radio to acoustic modems could vastly improve underwater data transmission rates. For example, in experiments last fall in Lake Erie, just south of Buffalo, New York, graduate students from UB proved that software-defined acoustic modems could boost data transmission rates by 10 times what today’s commercial underwater modems are capable of.
The potential applications for such technology includes:
Military and law enforcement work; for example, drug smugglers have deployed makeshift submarines to clandestinely ferry narcotics long distances underwater.
An improved, more robust underwater sensor network could help spot these vessels.
The scuba industry; diver-to-diver walkie-talkies exist but their usefulness is limited by distance, clarity and other issues.
The energy industry; an improved network could make finding oil and natural gas easier.
The ongoing research is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Carl Ford and the team at TMC Media did a great job with the 2015 IOT Evolution conference in Las Vegas this summer. The sessions were outstanding and as usual, the real excitement and discovery was on the show floor. Sensor vendors like Xensr and Monnit provided some cool ideas on how sensors can be used to solve a wide variety of business problems.
David Troup from Xensrhttp://www.xensr.com
3d Motion tracking gps — started with extreme sports, now in discussions with a variety of industries.
Brad Walters from Monnithttp://www.monnit.com
45+ different sensors for every need. And gateways. Brad is passionate about sensors and has great case studies.