New spray-on sensors could completely change world of IoT

5 Oct 2018

Spray-applied MXene antennas could open the door for new applications in wearables and IoT devices. Image: Drexel University

This week in the world of IoT, researchers reveal antennas you can spray on to objects, and a new sensor for autonomous cars.

With findings published in Science Advances, a team from Drexel University in the US revealed a new sensor that could make installing an internet of things (IoT) antenna as easy as applying some spray paint.

Made from a 2D, metallic material called MXene, the near-invisible transmitters performed as well as those found in mobile devices, wireless routers and portable transducers.

“This is a very exciting finding because there is a lot of potential for this type of technology,” said Kapil Dandekar, co-author of the research.

“The ability to spray an antenna on a flexible substrate or make it optically transparent means that we could have a lot of new places to set up networks. There are new applications and new ways of collecting data that we can’t even imagine at the moment.”

The researchers reported that the MXene titanium carbide can be dissolved in water to create an ink or paint. The exceptional conductivity of the material enables it to transmit and direct radio waves.

Start-up reveals next-gen sensor for autonomous vehicles

The Verge reported this week that a one-year-old start-up called Aeva (which is made up of former Apple engineers) is drawing considerable attention in Silicon Valley with the release of a new sensor for autonomous vehicles.

The tiny box device can better equip a car’s computer to directly measure objects nearby, as well as the distance and velocity between them.

“Typically, you have separate LIDAR, separate camera, and separate motion sensors and fuse them in a central compute box,” said Aeva co-founder Soroush Salehian.

“Our product has access to the lowest levels of data. We can measure pixels on certain objects, like a human limb. We can measure the velocity and motion of a pedestrian or object, and we can predict the future motion of those objects pretty accurately.”

In an increasingly competitive autonomous vehicle technology space, the engineers’ pedigree as members of Apple’s own car project could give them the leg up over others, bolstered by news of a recent $45m funding round.

Cubic Telecom to install IoT tech in new Audi Q8 luxury SUV

Dubin-based Cubic Telecom has managed to pull off some major deals in the autotech space, including the recent announcement of a deal to provide its connectivity management solution for Audi’s new Q8 luxury SUV range.

Drivers of the Q8 will now get access to up-to-date information and entertainment integrated with the Audi Virtual Cockpit, and advanced internet connectivity using Cubic’s technology.

With an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and connected infotainment services, drivers of the Audi Q8 have access to navigation, route guidance and mapping, as well as personal apps such as digital radio and music streaming.

“As the automotive industry undergoes a shift in focus towards integrating connectivity as part of its customer value proposition, Audi is well-known globally for its forward-thinking and innovative work in intelligent driving,” said Barry Napier, CEO of Cubic Telecom. “We are proud that Audi has chosen Cubic to power the incredible, all-new Q8 with our seamless connected car services.”

Toyota and SoftBank join forces for autonomous vehicles

According to Japan Today, Toyota and SoftBank have created a lucrative joint venture to develop autonomous vehicle services in the face of ever-increasing global competition.

The services it will work on include on-demand vehicles, food delivery and hospital shuttles with onboard medical exams. The venture will first roll-out in Japan and will tie in with Toyota’s plans to create vehicles for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with a new business to develop autonomous services by the end of that year.

SoftBank’s decision to sign such a deal with a fellow Japanese company is something of an unusual move for the energy and telecoms giant, given that most of its major investments have been overseas.

Toyota’s chief executive Akio Toyoda admitted that it was an unlikely partnership, but said that it was now crucial for the company, as a member of the auto industry, to stay on top of trends such as artificial intelligence and IoT.

“This may look like an unusual combination,” added SoftBank’s executive in charge of technology, Junichi Miyakawa. “But Japan must compete with the rest of the world. That is why we are shaking hands today.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic