Ten Underrated Sensors You Can Use with Samsung ARTIK™

Samsung ARTIK™, an integrated IoT platform that brings together hardware, software, cloud, security, and partner ecosystem all in one place, is a key resource for many who are designing and building high-quality IoT applications. If you’re one of the savvy innovators drawing on the resources Samsung ARTIK™ and its modules provide, you are no doubt taking advantage of streamlined prototyping and design and focusing on making your product all the more impressive in its functionality, perhaps by integrating certain sensing capabilities into the build. Conveniently, highly integrated Samsung ARTIK™ modules like the 530 and 710 can interface with any sensor that talks I2C, SPI, or over analog or digital IO.

We have over two dozen sensor subcategories, and a good number of them integrate functionalities you are no doubt familiar with and have perhaps already considered for your design. However, we know that true innovators are often on the lookout for the unexpected, which is why we want to show you ten of our favorite underrated specialized sensors able to operate with Samsung ARTIK™.

Capacitive Touch Sensor

The first underrated sensor we want to present is a capacitive touch sensor.  Capacitive touch does not require the user to actually press on a screen like resistive touch and relies on the change in sensor capacitance when a foreign object is introduced to the area immediately surrounding the sensor.

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CAP1208-1-A4-TR

Microchip Technology Touch Screen Controllers View

The sensors themselves are often quite simple and require post processing, which is why so many capacitive touch sensors also integrate controls, filtering, and automatic recalibration to truly deliver usable data to a microcontroller.

3D Orientation Sensor with Click Detection

Unlike an accelerometer, an orientation sensor uses gravity alone to detect 6 unique positions.  These are commonly used in devices like tablets to determine landscape vs. portrait mode.  STMicroelectronics’ FC30 is special because it integrates mouse-like functionality by recognizing single and double taps as interrupts.  This makes the sensor truly a standalone device that can be used for human interface applications like digital photo frames or any motion triggered events.

Time of Flight Sensor

Let’s get one thing clear – time of flight sensors will not tell you how long something like a drone has been in the air.  The term comes from how long it takes light to bounce from the emitter back into the receiver.

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Time of Flight (ToF) sensors are basically distance and proximity sensors.  Some, like the VL53L0CX use technologies like laser ranging to increase accuracy and decrease the effects of surfaces with low reflectivity.  This module can even be used for 1D gesture recognition or to speed up camera Auto Focus systems.

Digital Humidity, Pressure, and Temperature Sensor

While combined temperature and humidity sensors are not out of the ordinary, adding pressure sensing to the mix earns the BME280 chip from Bosch a place in the specialized category and makes it an appealing choice for numerous IoT applications.  The device is tiny and draws 0.1uA when disabled, making it perfect for battery powered IoT devices, GPS enhancement, or just environmental context.

Color Sensors

For some applications, it is enough to sense light using a simple photodiode. This gives the user quantitative data about light levels for applications like smart lighting. However, some applications require qualitative data about light color.  The TCS3472 from ams AG is considered a light-to-digital converter and provides a digital (I2C) output of red, green, blue, and clear light values with built-in IR blocking.  The VEML6040 from Vishay also provides RGBW color and intensity data, with the specialization of this sensor being the addition of a special filtering technology that provides a spectrum that matches the responses of the human eye.

UV Index Sensor

Ambient light sensors are used in many applications, and the SI1132 from Silicon Labs adds additional functionality with an integrated UV index sensor that can work anywhere, from behind dark glass to under direct sunlight.  The sensor shows good immunity to noise and can be used indoors or outdoors for a wide range of applications.   The UV sensor makes the device appealing for consumer products in the health and fitness market, as it could give important information to the wearer about outdoor UV levels we known to have health implications.

Dust Sensor

We’ve all seen the way a beam of light catches the dust particles in the air, but where most of us wince and run to grab a duster, the engineers at Amphenol saw an opportunity for analysis.

The SMART dust sensor uses an IR LED and photo sensor (much like IR proximity sensors) to detect and identify particles in the air based on their reflection.  It can distinguish between small particles like cigarette smoke and large particles like standard house dust using a PWM output.

Piezo Vibration Sensor

Piezo sensors do not look that high-tech. They are a thin material with special properties (a piezoelectric PVDC polymer film, in this case), given metal leads, and laminated.  However, the information these sensors can provide is highly configurable.

According to the datasheet for TE Connectivity sensor 1005447-1:

When the assembly is deflected by direct contact, the device acts as a flexible "switch", and the generated output is sufficient to trigger MOSFET or CMOS stages directly. If the assembly is supported by its contacts and left to vibrate "in free space" (with the inertia of the clamped/free beam creating bending stress), the device will behave as an accelerometer or vibration sensor. Adding mass, or altering the free length of the element by clamping, can change the resonant frequency and sensitivity of the sensor to suit specific applications. Multi-axis response can be achieved by positioning the mass off center.

Air Quality Sensor

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is a blanket term for many of the harmful particles that contribute to poor air quality.  When we discuss filament options for 3D printing, the main concern around strong and flexible ABS is the relatively high amount of VOCs it releases when heated to printable temperatures.  A sensor such as the AS-MLV-P2 from amu AG measures both VOCs and carbon monoxide to provide comprehensive air quality data used to intelligently turn on fans or warn room occupants of an unsafe environment.

Float Sensor

Some specialized sensors are perfectly standard sensors with a specialized actuator.  The 59630 from Littelfuse looks like a normal reed switch in a schematic, but is actuated when a liquid causes the magnet embedded in a low density foam to rise away from the sensor body.

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This simple design requires no standby power, can switch up to 10A, and is more reliable for long term use than other liquid level sensor technologies.

So there you have it – ten underrated sensors to incorporate into your design as you continue to leverage the advantages of the highly integrated Samsung ARTIK™ IoT platform.

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