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.
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.
“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.
I am excited to announce that today we are launching TechAloft.com, a new website focused on telling the stories at the leading edge of technology and aerospace. The site is part of our efforts to promote the $25K Sikorsky Entreprenuerial Challenge. We hope you’ll take a look.
Sikorsky Innovations is the founding sponsor of the Stamford Innovation Center. We’ve helped them for years in recruiting and evaluating the talented companies who have applied to the Entrepreneurial Challenge. The people who work at Sikorsky have been great to work with. Their passion for great technology and the value it provides is inspiring.
What’s new about the Entrepreneurial Challenge this year is that rather than focus on aerospace-specific problems, we’ve shifted our strategy to focus on important underlying technologies that will help Sikorsky leverage the best tech and engage with viable vendors whose technology has broad applicability across a wide array of industries. And we’ve built the TechAloft site as a way to participate in the dialog around these exciting industries.
Right now we are actively recruiting in four exciting tech sectors: IOT (Internet of Things), Augmented Reality, 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing and Energy Storage/Energy Management. We’ve met some great companies and awesome experts who are excited to get to know whether their products and solutions can improve current and future aircraft. They recognize that the answers to questions they will get from Sikorsky engineers will allow them to improve their business, their technology, or at a minimum the way they position their capabilities.
The value of this engagement for a young company with early technology cannot be overstated, and goes well beyond the $25K award that goes to the winner. As I’ve said many times recently, the award money is desert. The relationship with Sikorsky is dinner, and we hope to see many many hungry companies around the table.
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.
What’s going on in the world of IOT? Here’s a video report from our August 2015 visit to IOT Evolution in Las Vegas. There were so many great companies at this event, but this video gives you an idea about the companies who are already selling solutions to customers — always a good way to measure progress.