“Distributed sensing enables richer knowledge of any environment, detecting air quality, temperature, humidity, occupancy, and more,” said David Schwartz, project lead and manager of Energy Devices and Systems at PARC. “Sensors need to be low-cost, easily deployed, require little or no maintenance, and be able to store enough energy to do their job. PARC’s flexible, printed and hybrid electronics enable the unique peel-and-stick form factor, provide affordable, plug-and-play installation, and allow for remote radio frequency power delivery.”
PARC has a long history in developing hybrid electronics with varying functionality and flexible form factors. One of the challenges in distributed sensing is power. PARC’s low-cost sensors are powered by RF energy instead of batteries, which have limited life, or light, which can be ineffective inside of buildings. The peel-and-stick deployment provides simple and affordable installation advantages. Sensors can be applied throughout the facility and easily replaced or moved when necessary.
The IoT requires a myriad of solutions to help sense and interpret the world. Printing is a promising approach to mass-produce and customize sensor systems to support the fast growing IoT. The low cost, flexible form factor, and simple installation are ideal for a variety of applications including building efficiency, air quality, smart cities, industrial and residential safety, and wearables. The key to the success of any widespread IoT deployment is the ability to utilize configurable, on-demand, low cost, sensor systems, and to design the technology to best fit the application.
“Business Insider Intelligence predicts the IoT market to become a $6 trillion market by 2021. “Distributed, networked sensing and data collection is the basis of the IoT. PARC is poised to provide a variety of the IoT sensors given our deep and rich history in printed electronics,” said Schwartz.
Last year, PARC announced its methane detection sensors, based on printed sensor arrays fabricated on polymer substrates. PARC is developing very low cost printed sensor arrays to quantify and locate methane leaks, using a variety of modified carbon nanotube (CNT) materials. The combined response of the sensors provides “fingerprints” for methane and other gases. This approach offers a solution to identify, quantify and locate natural gas leaks at a cost point compatible with widespread deployment.