20 Jun 2019

Sensor manufacturers need to wake up and sense the coffee

Why aren't sensor manufacturers jumping on the IoT bandwagon? It's theirs for the taking. Neil Hamilton, u-blox Head of Service Sales takes a look at the sensor market to see what's going on and reveals one sensor manufacturer who is bucking the trend.

Old fashioned valves

Why aren’t sensor manufacturers jumping on the IoT bandwagon? It’s theirs for the taking. Neil Hamilton, u-blox Head of Service Sales takes a look at the sensor market to see what’s going on and reveals one sensor manufacturer who is bucking the trend.

Sensing a missed opportunity

During a visit to the UK’s Sensor & Instrumentation show, I was surprised (as I was the previous year) that sensor manufacturers do not seem to be grasping the opportunity being presented to them by IoT.

For me, sensors are the critical ingredient for any IoT solution. End customers are paying for the value a sensor generates through a solution stack. People leave buildings when smoke is detected, it is the photoelectric sensor which is the hero. By putting the hero at the center of the story, AKA business case, a sensor manufacturer could be charging for the value the sensor delivers to a business, not just for the physical component value of the sensor.

Admittedly not all sensors are heroes, however, when combined together they do become valuable ensembles of value.

I believe part of the challenge here is know-how: a sensor manufacturer isn’t a specialist in IoT and will not have the capability or capacity to provide their sensors in an easy- to- connect format for upstream makers, pro-makers, and product manufacturers to easily work with to build prototypes.

Sensors and software in perfect harmony

We believe that those sensor manufacturers who do deliver their sensors in a ready-to-sense prototyping format will be the market leaders in the coming years. This is partly because their customers are changing. Nontraditional engineering firms are now entering the IoT fray ranging from university hacksters and, digital agencies who work in agile sprints to leading consultancies such as Deloitte who put teams of analysts into a room to create prototype devices for their customers. These organizations are looking to rapidly connect a sensor to a connected board which transmits the ‘sensor values’ directly into software applications to build prototypes… quickly. They often fail fast, learn, iterate, and improve to a finished product in no time.

Certain manufacturers are making this happen. Swiss-based Sensirion, the world’s leading manufacturer of temperature and humidity sensors, actively promotes various tools to enable developers to work with their sensor hardware. For prototypers looking to develop remotely connected sensing devices, they need to consider the ‘connected’ aspect. Using a globally wirelessly connected starter kit is a super- quick way to build a prototype that not only works anywhere in the world but also enables the easy processing and transformation of the binary data into meaningful information for any upstream IoT application.

In Conclusion

With thousands of different types of sensors in the market, providing them to makers in an easy-to-consume format is going to be really valuable, and those that do work to provide this will be tomorrow’s de facto market leaders. What are you waiting for, sensor manufacturers? Wake up and sense the coffee.

For more information on finding the right IoT connectivity, please get in touch.

Neil Hamilton

Marketing & Sales Services, Product Center Services, u-blox

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