In 2011, Netscape’s founder and venture capitalist Mark Anderson made a very innovative and already realistic view: “Software is engulfing the world.” To this day, if you replace the "software" in a sentence with "sensor", this view also applies.
Since the birth of the sensor, the sensor has become digital because it can help humans turn information that was once unknowable and difficult to judge into accessible and more accurate data. The most important infrastructure of society. From smart phones to smart voice devices, from energy platforms to industrial devices, sensors naturally “incarnate” human-connected machines, humans themselves, and the epiphysical organs of the natural environment.
With the development of sensors and related data storage, energy storage, new materials, network infrastructure equipment and other hardware and software technologies, there is still cost As the sensor declines, the application scenarios of the sensor will become more and more abundant.
It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 300 billion sensors in our daily life, and the market size will reach 10.5 billion US dollars. The market for printable flexible sensors will reach $7.3 billion.
So, what is the use of sensors today? In the future, even in the next 50 years, how will the sensor experience evolution and how will it change the world?
First, today's ubiquitous sensor
From consumer electronics to agriculture, transportation to healthcare, energy to aerospace From industry to city management, sensors have been deeply integrated into human production and life.
1. Consumer Electronics
In the field of consumer electronics, as human demand for functions continues to increase, more and more sensors are integrated into various products. For example,In the smart phone, there are more than ten kinds of sensors such as light sensor, distance sensor, gravity sensor, gyroscope, GPS, and fingerprint sensor.
In the agricultural sector, through installation Sensors on animals or in farmhouses allow us to monitor animal health and risks in real time to minimize animal disease and mortality and increase productivity and fertility. Through field sensors, we can accurately understand weather and soil data to determine the best time to plant, irrigate, fertilize and harvest.
In smart buildings, sensors Real-time monitoring of air quality, light intensity, smoke concentration, temperature changes and other data inside the building.This allows us to better manage indoor air quality, reduce energy consumption, and improve living and working conditions.
In health care, The sensor can be used for the management of drugs and lifestyles in patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help children or care workers to monitor the behavior of elderly people with diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or Alzheimer's disease. When an abnormality is found, you can immediately seek medical help or call emergency services.
With the sensor, the doctor can remotely monitor the patient's heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, heart and other health indicators, and can take the electronic pills to understand the patient's medication and treatment Situation, give guidance and advice in time. Overall, sensors can reduce hospital costs, improve medical quality, reduce the frequency of expensive emergency admissions, and hospitalization costs.
For City Management, The sensor can help managers to master the operation of underground lines and equipment such as gas, electricity, water, sewage, etc.; can monitor road vehicles and pedestrian traffic in real time, adjust transportation strategies in time to reduce traffic congestion; can tell the driver where to drive There are spare parking spaces to avoid unnecessary time wastage and reduce carbon emissions; even the outbreak and transmission path of the disease can be discovered and tracked.
Without sensors, there is no The Internet of Things, there is no Industry 4.0. In the fields of industry, energy, military industry, etc., sensors can realize predictive maintenance of equipment, and analyze and process the data collected by sensors.Respond to potential problems to minimize equipment downtime costs.
Second, a more exciting future
Future, sensor It will become smaller, cheaper, more accurate, more flexible, more energy efficient, more environmentally friendly, able to collect more types of data, and integrate more and more new technologies.
With the application of new platforms and new materials, manufacturing manufacturers can make smaller sensors Its performance can be as high as that of millimeter and microwave grade electronic components, and with less silicon application, the cost will be greatly reduced. At the same time, the new platform will reduce sensor design, development and manufacturing costs.
In the long run, self-calibrating sensors are very cost effective. Automated calibration reduces sensor maintenance and time and dramatically reduces maintenance costs. In addition, self-healing sensors will have a wider range of applications and lower maintenance costs, especially when disasters and risks occur.
2. Higher accuracy
Currently,Research on multi-channel cooperative spectrum sensing is still in its infancy. In the future, once the technology is mature, it will provide more accurate monitoring data than today's single-channel sensors.
More accurate, reliable, and reproducible sensors will have more applications in areas such as medical devices, and they will be more powerful.
3. More flexible and flexible
Flexible sensor It is an important direction for the development of sensors in the future. Currently, flexible light sensors, pH sensors, ion sensors and biosensors are still in the early stages of development. In the future, these flexible sensors will have more innovative applications such as artificial skin, wearable sensors and micro-motion sensing.
With microwire technology and magnetic fields, the sensor can be as thin as a hair, yet flexible, without the need for a power source.Temperature, pressure, tension, stress, torsion and position can be measured without contact.
4. Better perception and more data
Future sensors will more effectively mimic human senses to detect, process and analyze complex signals such as biohazards, odors, material pressures, pathogens and corrosion. For example, these advanced sensors can not only perceive a large number of single analytes (such as carbon dioxide), but also break down every component of the scent.
In addition, smart dust is a microscopic sensor driven by vibration, which can monitor battlefields, high-rise buildings or arterial blockages. .
5. More medical applications
Currently, many health-related sensors are mainly used in the entertainment and lifestyle sectors, and their functions are not up to the medical level. In the future, more medical-grade sensors will pass strict regulatory approvals and achieve medical applications.
With the miniaturization of laboratory systems, the development of emerging technologies that will accelerate biohazard perception, wearable sensors will become true medical-grade devices, not simple For life and entertainment, medical testing will be easier, with a single instrument that can analyze more substances and reduce the need for sample volume, for example, body fluids such as sweat and tears can be used for health testing. p>
Can swallow pills are an application of miniaturization of laboratory systems. For example, many health technology start-ups have used swallowable sensors to replace traditional endoscopy. To reduce the suffering of patients. There are also some swallowable or implantable pills developed by technology companies that can be administered continuously in the body for a long time, making the daily treatment of patients easier.
6. More energy efficient
currently, most sensors Not very energy efficient because it is always on. In the future, sensors will become smarter and driven by specific conditions that will only be activated when certain conditions are reached, while when they are in standby mode, there is almost no power consumption.
In addition, the sensor can also extract energy from the surrounding environment for longer operation. For example, exercise, stress, light, or the difference in heat between the patient's body and the surrounding air can be a source of energy for the sensor.
In the future, environmentally friendly Type and biodegradable sensors will become increasingly popular.
For example, the sensor can use a bacteria-driven, degradable paper-based battery, which can be used for farmland management, environment Monitoring, food circulation monitoring or medical testing, etc., without polluting the environment.
8. Higher complexity and better compatibility
By coordinating the work, the sensor will gain additional complexity. Sensor clusters can better coordinate the work between sensors and determine the job content and location through an autonomous learning system.
In addition, the adoption of new technologies will also make sensors more diverse. For example, through the laser technology, the sensor can identify the composition of matter through the unique spectrum of the material; the time-of-flight sensor can measure the distance between two objects by means of an infrared light pulse;Piezoelectric sensors made of materials such as crystals, special ceramics, bones, DNA, and proteins can better respond to external pressures and latent heat.
In the future, advances in various basic sciences will further drive the rapid evolution of sensor technology. Sensors will become more compact, user-friendly, and human-computer interactions will be more friendly; at the same time, they will become more invisible and less noticeable. As sensors become more deeply integrated into our daily lives, and with new technologies such as AI, sensors will make our lives better in the future of connectivity and automation.