report Micro, Nano & Materials
The interested audience at Halle 7 at Gundeldingerfeld.

The interested audience at Halle 7 at Gundeldingerfeld.


Sensors – a fantastic event about hardware, machine learning and humans

“It is a slow tsunami.” Matthias Krieger, CSEM, used this expression when he described the development of sensors, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and machine learning. BaselArea’s event “Sensors – key elements in the new world of digitalization”, which took place on November 14th at Halle 7 at the Gundeldingerfeld in Basel, covered a fascinating field ranging from sensor hardware to wireless data communication, machine learning and the difficult field of human-machine interface.

“Today, 85 percent of all IoT sensors are in wireless smartphone applications, but in the future we will find them in many more applications,” explained Matthias Krieger. Data will be transformed in a “fog” to optimize the cloud-to-things interaction, inducing new challenges for security and power supply. Krieger presented new sensors developed by CSEM with thin film pressure sensors and force sensors for haptic robotic control.

“Wireless Sensors” was the key topic of Professor Leonhard Riedl, IMTEK Uni Freiburg. He covered the problem of saving power in environments were everyday charging is no option. Hibernated sensors with ultrasonic wakeup calls seem to be a great solution. Further, localization in rooms can be done low power via ultrasound with an accuracy of 30 centimeters. The startup Telocate already uses this technology. To transmit data “chipless” in harsh environments like turbines, surface acoustic wave sensors (SAW) may be used. So far, all the ideas presented by Riedl led to four startups – and more are on the way.

Professor Patrice Wira from the University of Mulhouse presented the interaction of smart sensors and intelligent interpretation fostered by a concept called “artificial neural networks”. This sophisticated machine learning is used for example in smart power meters of houses to identify automatically which electrical loads like the washing machine or the laptop are used and how to optimize the power consumption in smart grids.

But how will these new possibilities interact with us, the humans? Professor Toni Wäfler explained the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) of Today and the Future to illustrative examples of fireworkers with “intuition”: It is difficult to act correctly in an emergency with little training. His school, the School of Applied Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences (FHNW), collaborates with the industry to design the HMI of tomorrow with a joint control of a human-machine team and new designs of jobs to facilitate some of the new amazing possibilities. 

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