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JUNE 2016


Vital Analytics with Firstbeat Interview with Joni Kettunen, Co-Founder and CEO of Firstbeat

Sony’s Hi-Res Sensor Ups the Quality of Raspberry Pi’s Camera Modules

IoT Sensors and the LED Industry


Sensor Technology

EDITORIAL STAFF Content Editor Karissa Manske Digital Content Manager Heather Hamilton Director, Creative Development Jeff Chavez Graphic Designer Carol Smiley Audience Development Claire Hellar Register at EEWeb

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PRODUCT WATCH Inside the Lab Linear Technology’s High Speed, High Resolution SAR ADC TECH REPORT IoT Sensors and the LED Industry Sony’s Hi-Res Sensor Ups the Quality of Raspberry Pi’s Camera Modules EEWeb FEATURE Sensors for Users (From an Embedded Guy) Above the Noise Solar Panel Roadways and the F35 Program INDUSTRY INTERVIEW Delivering Vital Analytics with Firstbeat Interview with Joni Kettunen, Co-Founder and CEO



Victor Alejandro Gao General Manager Executive Publisher Cody Miller Global Media Director Group Publisher






Sensor Technology

Linear Technology’s High Speed, High Resolution SAR ADC In this Inside the Lab with Arrow Electronics, EEWeb engineer Josh Bishop is actually outside the lab, visiting Linear Technology’s Headquarters to demonstrate their newest high speed and high resolution SAR ADC. The LTC2387-18 is a top of the line 15Msps 18-bit SAR ADC with high DC accuracy, an excellent signal to noise ratio, and exceptional AC performance. These characteristics, coupled with excellent AC performance, replace a more costly pipeline Sponsored by Arrow Electronics

ADC in the first Nyquist zone. This ADC is a zero latency design, making it ideal for applications where fast feedback is critical, such as closed loop control systems.



Block Diagram

THE LVDS SERIAL INTERFACE PROVIDES NOISE IMMUNITY AND CAN OUTPUT DATA AT DOUBLE DATA RATE ON ONE LVDS DATA PAIR, OR SINGLE DATA RATE ON 2 LVDS PAIRS. It’s a true differential input device; it accepts two positive 0-4V signals and internally subtracts them from one another to create an 8 Vpp bipolar differential signal which it then digitizes. The LTC2387-18 has several useful features. The LVDS serial interface provides noise immunity and can output data at double data rate on one LVDS data pair, or single data rate on 2 LVDS pairs. This is very helpful in reducing the number of interface I/O needed in FPGA and processor applications. Included within the data converter, there is an internal precision voltage reference that has a guaranteed initial accuracy of 0.25% and a long-term drift of less than 20 PPM per degree C. The LTC2387-18 can also easily be configured to use an external voltage reference if desired.

For a better look at available boards, Josh Bishop has provided a detailed walk through, available by watching the video. Included is discussion of data sheets, capabilities, and other useful information. As you can see, the LTC2387-18 is an impressive, high-performance ADC. For applications in control systems, instrumentation, communications, and any high-speed data acquisition, this is an excellent option.


Sensor Technology



IoT Sensors and the LED Industry

Can IoT sensors provide what the LED industry needs for a killer app? By Paul O’Shea

Each year for the last several years, the lighting industry got smarter as the customer and the design engineer put their creative minds together to see what is possible. The introduction of the LED light started the lighting revolution, but the LEDs were too expensive, even if they lasted much longer than incandescent or even fluorescent bulbs.


Sensor Technology


But customers still wanted more, like easier implementation by offering retrofits for all types of bulbs and sockets. Nope, still not enough. We the customers wanted something that had a wow factor and differentiated it from the plain-old light bulb. Meanwhile, companies like Cree kept making LEDs that had better specs than those of the previous generation and eventually were outperforming every other type of lighting, including the halogen lamps used to brighten sports stadiums and parking lots.

to provide distinctive designer lighting. That was close to the right solution, but we still needed lighting to do something for our everyday life. We saw that when companies like ams integrated lighting control functions with something totally different — sensors. That got us to the next step in which lighting now did something that it hadn’t been done before — it added smarts to the lighting manager so that it automagically dimmed or brightened luminaires in response to sunlight or turned on/off according to occupancy.

Designers added color and temperature control to the bulbs via the digital command functions, and that was good for digital signage. But that’s a pretty specific customer and only one market to hang your hat on. Then manufacturers like Texas Instruments and OSRAM developed integrated and sophisticated designs that could be used for the automotive industry and we started to see the cool factor in high-end cars. TI offered adaptive headlights that followed the road, making it safer and easier to drive at night, and OSRAM offered LED arrays that enabled car manufacturers

That opened the floodgates, and many companies recognized that sensors of all types could be added to existing lighting structures and that we could connect them through the wired internet, or the smart lights could communicate wirelessly. We are already seeing smart systems that use existing power and light technologies to create sophisticated solutions in commercial and industrial buildings. The next iteration will integrate more than just power and lighting, we will see smart space planning of offices and warehouses.



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Air-Handling Unit Boilers Pumps Fans Energy Control Variable Air Volume Air Quality

Creating an intelligent building starts with sensors and LED lighting. Sensors in lighting — welcome to the world of IoT in your work space. Companies like Enlighted, Digital Lumens, PointGrab, and Stack Lighting recognized that the real prize is to gather data, big data, and extract the useful information to make intelligent decisions about what you need to work efficiently. That

could mean keeping track of inventory so you’re not wasting time looking for it, or designing offices so that supplies and desks are in the best place for efficient use of time, or even scheduling elevators so that highly trafficked areas move people quickly and smoothly. One concept from Digital Lumens shows the basics for an intelligent building. Enlighted’s CEO, Joe Costello, shared a vignette during Lightfair 2016 that shows how and why businesses are putting intelligence into buildings, such as hospitals, so they can be more efficient. As you can imagine, many nurses are employed in hospitals and their time is expensive. When hospital administrators were asked what the most important

We are already seeing smart systems that use existing power and light technologies to create sophisticated solutions in commercial and industrial buildings.


Sensor Technology

process is that they wanted to control, one of the administrators said “finding available wheelchairs.” That may sound ridiculous, but consider that research tells us that nurses spend about 1 hour a day — just looking for wheelchairs and other equipment. Also, every patient needs to be escorted out of the hospital on a wheelchair, and if they can’t find one, the patient has to stay for another day, which increases the hospital bill. By adding sensors to the wheelchair, the hospital eliminates the lost time and cost of nurses looking for equipment. Patients and insurance companies save money, too, when release dates from the hospital occur on schedule.

These smart building decisions are based on many types of sensors such as passive IR and thermal. We also need to have these sensors work with processors and software algorithms, to retrieve the large amounts of data from the cloud and finally make intelligent and automated decisions. Of course that means we also need to share the information and that requires networks and communication standards to share the massive amounts of data. Fortunately, that’s already happening with the use of DALI, IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and other comm standards. These decisions can also be improved to meet our needs with built-in ability of the sensors to learn. The built-in smarts are getting to know us — all about us. Are we ready to give up some privacy to get it?

When hospital administrators were asked what the most important process is that they wanted to control, one of the administrators said “finding available wheelchairs.”


Sensor Technology

Sony’s Hi-Res Sensor Ups the Quality of Raspberry Pi’s Camera Modules Raspberry Pi’s camera modules, which haven’t been updated since 2012, upgraded to an 8-megapixel sensor By Nicole DiGiose



Visible Light Camera

The Raspberry Pi has evolved through multiple refreshes since its original launch in 2012, but its first accessory, a 5-megapixel OmniVision camera module, has remained unchanged. Now the company has introduced the choice of two new camera modules: visible light or infrared, which are based on the Sony IMX219 8-megapixel sensor.


Sensor Technology


lways meant to be affordable, the credit card-sized computer is part of the reason why the camera accessory hasn’t been updated, since the Raspberry Pi Foundation and its partners bought a huge amount of sensors, which kept prices low, ensuring they had enough stock for years to come. But according to Raspberry Pi founder, Eben Upton, the Omnivision OV5647 sensor was end-of-lifed at the end of 2014 and the large stockpile was depleted. “Fortunately, we’d already struck up conversation with Sony’s image sensor division, and so in the nick of time we’re able to announce the immediate availability of both visible-light (seen above) and infrared cameras (seen below) based on the Sony IMX219 8-megapixel sensor, at the same low price of $25,” Upton said in a recent blog post. For those who aren’t aware, the IMX219 has a fixed-focus sensor and can output photos with resolutions of up to 3,280 x 2,464 pixels, and 1080 p at 30 fps. The organization said the

Infrared Camera


new sensor represents more than a resolution upgrade, and was also chosen for its image quality, color fidelity, and low-light performance. The Sony sensor is paired with the VideoCore IV multimedia processor architecture, which features an advanced image sensor pipeline (ISP). The ISP must be tuned to work with the sensor to correct for artifacts such as thermal and shot noise, detective pixels, lens shading, and image distortion. Most of the effort was concentrated on developing an auto lens shading algorithm, to take into account manufacturing variations between modules and auto white balance tuning, which tries to capture the colors of a scene no matter the color temperature of the ambient light. Currently the two cameras are available from RS Components and element14 websites, and will soon reach other retailers.


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Sensor Technology

Sensors for Users (From an Embedded Guy)



I’m an embedded guy and only have the highest level understanding of how sensors physically work, but their functionality is important to me as my embedded systems need sensors to understand the world around them. I do wonder, sometimes, if we always keep the end users in mind when we’re designing new products. Are these new features actually going to help our customers or are they new features that we simply think will help out our customers? The sad truth is that, in my experience, I’ve seen that happen before on many occasions. So, as a single representative of your customer base, I’d just like to touch on a couple of things I hope you’re considering as you develop the

By Josh Bishop

latest and greatest sensor.


Sensor Technology

The ideal sensor would be infinitesimally small, consume no power, not affect the variable being measured in any way, take measurements instantaneously, have no hysteresis (granted, this is debatable in certain circumstances), be perfectly accurate, infinitely precise, and, of course, absolutely free. Unfortunately, most of those requirements will never be met. Yet, they offer the direction that you should look when developing something new. If the new feature doesn’t contribute in at least one of these areas, is it truly an improvement? The reality is, though, that in most cases, you will improve one at the expense of another. While there are moments of blinding ingenuity, where something is better in every way from its predecessor, this is usually only achieved over the long term. And, as engineers, we all realize this. We understand that if we want the smallest, highest performance sensor, we’re going to pay a premium. But if we want the most basic version, developed twenty years ago and power consumption in the milliamps instead of microamps, then the expectation is that the price will be lower. With that said, the question is who are you aiming for when you develop a product. Is this going to go into a mass-

produced consumer product where precision and quality can come second to extremely low cost? Or is this designed to go into cutting edge aerospace applications where imprecision or failure can lead to catastrophe? A product aimed at pleasing everyone is bound to fail, particularly when there are typically a large number of competing products that are custom tailored to specific needs. Besides considering these questions before setting out on development, these same questions can be asked during and at the end of development. At times, a product doesn’t end out the way it was intended, a risk of any engineering endeavor. I recently was working with a system that had a new feature that, on the surface, seemed like it would make a significant improvement in performance. After several weeks of testing, though, my team and I couldn’t actually see any benefit to the new topography and the manufacturer couldn’t quantify any performance improvements either. Although it was only slightly more expensive than its simpler predecessor, why would I pay anything more if there were no tangible improvements? I can see why, when they embarked on the design, they thought it would be a good idea, but the fact is, it wasn’t. This is a difficult case because millions of dollars

A product aimed at pleasing everyone is bound to fail, particularly when there are typically a large number of competing products that are custom tailored to specific needs.


EEWeb FEATURE Take the time to carefully consider who your customers will be, what they will use your product for, and verify that you’ve actually achieved your goal once development is done.

were already spent on creating this product and frankly, I’m glad that I’m not the one who has to decide whether to eat those sunk costs or put even more money into marketing and sales in the hope that it eventually breaks even. These are small yet crucial items that sometimes get lost in the rush for

development and, while they might seem simplistic, make a significant difference. Take the time to carefully consider who your customers will be, what they will use your product for, and verify that you’ve actually achieved your goal once development is done. The consequences of this seemingly simple action can be far reaching.


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Sensor Technology



An EE twist on the latest news

Boise, Idaho based electrical engineers Josh Bishop and Nick Davis present Above the Noise, a new YouTube series presenting an EE twist on the stories making headlines across the globe. Bishop and Davis offer a point and counterpoint on two issues per episode, bringing a diverse perspective to the latest in technology and current events. In May’s episode, the pair address solar panel roadways and the F35 debacle—both controversial in certain circles.



Solar Panel Roadways

With 165,000 miles worth of United States highway, these panels could present a renewable energy source that is safer and larger than nuclear power.

In Sandpoint, Idaho, Davis explains, they’re going to be putting in 150 square feet of solar powered roadway with grant money obtained, in part, from the University of Idaho. While he believes the $60,000 cost is justifiable for a pilot program that will be scalable on a global level, Bishop argues that the solar roadways are impractical and expensive. Davis asserts that, as technology progresses, the panels will become more robust, though he concedes that perhaps areas with more sun will yield more productive results. He estimates that, with 165,000 miles worth of United States highway, these panels could present a renewable energy source that is safer and larger than nuclear power. Still, Bishop says, the cost is too high for a technology that remains relatively unproven and possesses limited durability. While he believes there may be potential for solar power in other unused spaces, he’s skeptical about storing and producing solar energy via a roadway system.


Sensor Technology

The F35 Program


Recently called a scandal and a tragedy by Senator John McCain, the F35 program has been generating a lot of buzz. In it’s infancy, program leaders believed that F35s could replace F22s and other Cold War era planes at a reduced cost.

Bishop agrees—at roughly $150 million per plane, the government has sunk nearly $1.3 trillion into what has become the most expensive military project in history. And the plane is still having problems.

Davis explains that there are three different versions of the F35, meant to service all branches of the military. Unfortunately, he says, the program has been a disaster—an over budget wish list.

While Davis is ready to move on, Bishop is skeptical because of the money the US has poured into the program. Davis believes that the technology (conceived in the 90s) is already

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outdated and in need of an update. Plus, he mentions, we’d send a clear message to defense contractors turning in work that is over budget, overdue, and outdated. Bishop believes that there’s still hope for the program.

The government has sunk nearly $1.3 trillion into what has become the most expensive military project in history. To hear a more detailed discussion, comment, or suggest topics for upcoming episodes, check out the Above the Noise YouTube channel here.




Sensor Technology


Vital Analytics

with Firstbeat Interview with Joni Kettunen, Co-Founder and CEO of Firstbeat

The market of wearable technology has seen tremendous growth in the last few years, with the desire to improve health and overall well-being at the forefront. Firstbeat, a Finland-based analytics company, has been working since 2002 to provide the most comprehensive data to its users. Through research in physiology, mathematical modeling, and behavioral research, Firstbeat helps power wearable technology in devices from a variety of companies. The services they provide impact professional sports teams, corporate wellness, and individual well-being. EEWeb met with Joni Kettunen, co-founder and CEO of Firstbeat to discuss the depth and breadth of wearables and the importance of reliable analytics.




Sensor Technology

Give us a bit of your background. What is your position and how did you come to found Firstbeat? I am a co-founder and CEO of Firstbeat, which was founded in 2002. The idea came from intensive research which included using different factors of heart rate variability (HRV) to quantify physiological processes, and is built first and foremost on our ability to see the heartbeat in high detail, translating into wellbeing products. Once we had the research and technical skills, we applied everything into a broader scope, now available for different areas of life: sports, healthcare, and personal well-being.

So Firstbeat is multi-disciplinary, with a focus on the software driving the backend of these devices and the corresponding analytics. Is that correct? Yes, that is correct. We work in a few areas that each require different deliveries of software. We deliver the analytics to be embedded within the device. The devices run in real-time and provide meaningful metrics on a user’s fitness levels, training effects, stress, and recovery.


We work in different sectors of health and well-being management. The first sector is professional sports. Firstbeat provides a complete training analysis for the coaches and trainers. Currently, Firstbeat has hundreds of professional teams using our product. Another sector is corporate well-being. In this case, Firstbeat has thousands of employers using our solutions, and we work with companies to optimize productivity and performance and prevent exhaustion and burnout. In terms of electronics and consumer products, we license our analytics to be embedded within different devices.

When you license out your analytics, can they be supported by a variety of microcontrollers and platforms? Yes. Firstbeat’s analytics are developed in such a way that they can be put into almost any platform. We have teamed up with companies such as Garmin, Samsung, Sony, Suunto, Bosch and more to power their wellness wearables.

INDUSTRY INTERVIEW How can users tell whether devices are powered by Firstbeat rather than competitors? Most of the devices powered by Firstbeat have a clear reference indicating that the analytics inside are provided by Firstbeat. Users can also refer to our background research and current technology. It may not be the first thing that a consumer sees in a shop, but a deeper search will show how Firstbeat features work in Firstbeat-powered products.

Do you find a high number of other companies trying to improve their analytics to become direct competitors with Firstbeat? There are some competitors, as well as a large number of companies involved in analytics already. We are not the only company offering in-depth analytics, and each company has something of their own. However, Firstbeat does have the benefit of being in the arena for some time with an excellent track record. I think it’s a good sign that there is a growing understanding within the

market that solid analytics are necessary in making wearable products meaningful for the end users. Unless there is a strong connection between the wearables and useful analytics, products will not do well in mainstream growth. As the relationship between wearables and analytics strengthens, we will continue to see better products.

Since you started Firstbeat, how much has the market for well-being wearables grown? We’re still in the early days of wearables and many of the application areas such as healthcare have not been tapped yet. When that area truly takes off, it will be huge. When Firstbeat started, it was a completely different landscape compared to where we are now. What began as a small niche business is now finding its way into the mainstream market. However, as far as actual benefits delivered, there will be a lot of development in the next three years or so, addressing more mainstream potential.


Sensor Technology

Are there other areas aside from sports and medical that Firstbeat’s technology and analytics will be able to help people? We are delving into healthcare in the corporate setting. This is an area we already have quite a bit of experience in, but finding ways to help people be healthier and more productive is a big opportunity. There is a strong correlation between well-being and health care. I think that this is the direction the enterprise is moving and it’s a perfect opportunity for all companies to promote healthy, productive employees. For example, I’m currently in Palo Alto and high levels of stress are evident in the Silicon Valley. Managing that stress for workers and specialists could prove very profitable for the individual, the corporation, and ultimately Firstbeat.

As Firstbeat is working on development and testing, what is the main focus for improvements in your products? Firstbeat is constantly striving to make our products as robust and useful as possible. Products need to be meaningful for end users, so we are concentrating on developing the analytics that create meaningful user interface and direction. Until the wearables we create have an effect on user behavior, they are not useful.


You say you aren’t really successful until you change people’s behaviors. Have you found data that shows a correlation between Firstbeat products and people leading healthier lives? Yes, we have. One area we see it the most is in the area of corporate wellness, increasing and promoting healthy lifestyles in employees. We have a database of about 200,000 users which we can both show clients and use for development purposes. The data covered shows both cost savings for companies and their employees. There is a notable trend in reduced sick leaves and self-reported better wellbeing with the use of our product.

What would you say is Firstbeat’s largest success so far? I think the biggest success for Firstbeat is our ability to make our technology available to the market. We produce physiology-based technology to the market in a variety of devices. There are around sixty consumer devices that Firstbeat powers today for both individual and sports team use. Currently, there are 600 sports teams using our analytics. This shows us that what we provide is useful in both training and everyday well-being, which has been at the forefront of our goals all along.


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Sensor Technology: June 2016  

Delivering Vital Analytics with Firstbeat

Sensor Technology: June 2016  

Delivering Vital Analytics with Firstbeat