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EETE SEP 2014

What’s that smell? An app for that soon, says Sensirion By Julien Happich With the licensing of cloud software developed by neighbouring company Koubachi AG, Zurich-based company Sensirion is gearing up to meet the increasing demand for cloud-based sensor data management and services. This license agreement strengthens its position in the Internet of Things sector. Initially a sensor company developing tiny humidity, temperature and multi-gas sensors, Sensirion has been increasingly developing as a software provider to help OEMs with the integration of its sensors in smartphones. “This is a strategic move, we want to have an IoT infrastructure that allows us to store our sensor data and process it through algorithms on the cloud”, told us Andrea Orzati, Vice President Mobile & Consumer Business at Sensirion. Although in 2010 Koubachi AG had designed a Wi-Fi Plant Sensor measuring soil moisture, temperature, and light intensity (akin to Parrot’s Flower Power solution) and reporting the data to end-users via a smartphone application, Sensirion’s sensors were not involved in “For every particular market we approach, the Koubachi design. But the way they collected and analysed the data meant they understood very well what Sensirion’s cloud requirements would be. Hence Sensirion sought to establish close ties with the start-up from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). “The Koubachi Smart Object Server technology enables data from hundreds of thousands of sensors to be classified and, most importantly, analyzed at the same time. We are proud that we can support Sensirion, one of the leading providers of sensor the cloud can be used to generate a particular value in different ways” technologies, with our expertise,” said Dr Philipp Bolliger, CEO of Koubachi AG in a joint statement. “We want to establish ourselves as the leading environment sensing company for the mobile industry” explained Orzati, providing the sensors but also the software stacks both for OEMs who are buying the sensors and for 3rd party application developers who will require the data. With this licensing deal, Sensirion strengthens its software activity and hopes to provide added-value to the hardware it sells, although the strategy for data monetization is not yet clear cut. “For every particular market we approach, the cloud can be used to generate a particular value in different ways” said Orzati. One possibility could be to aggregate the sensor data in one central hub and deliver different accesses and services, as it is the case for a number of other IoT data management businesses. To ease the integration of its sensor technology, Sensirion has worked with Google to enhance the Android API with an interface for temperature and humidity measurement. “Some years ago, when the Android OS was starting to go mainstream, we wanted to make it easy for OEMs to use our sensors’ data in Android. We actively approached Google and sat down with them to specify an API (application programming interface) specific to humidity and temperature, building a clear interface for everyone to use” recalls Orzati. “We implemented it and they liked it, it was then released in Android, as open source.” Several smartphones are expected to ship next year with built-in temperature/humidity and multi-gas sensors. The Swiss company envisages various ambient monitoring scenarios, including applications where consumers could share temperature, humidity and chemicals detection data for real-time air quality information. The amount of data generated could be very useful for meteorological research too. As the company develops multi-gas sensors, it could be able to analyse more and more complex signals. It may even be possible to create libraries of recognisable environment patterns for air quality, or known scents to search and match. Going beyond breath analysis for alcohol testing or bad-breath detection, who knows if in the future a smartphone app could help you identify a perfume, the same way you could use Shazam or SoundHound to recognize music playing around you? “In principle, if you can close the loop and match complex signals to libraries of patterns, the opportunities for new applications are endless” admitted Orzati. 12 Electronic Engineering Times Europe September 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE SEP 2014
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