Smart home currently the most promising segment among IoT markets: Bosch Sensortec

Smart home currently the most promising segment among IoT markets: Bosch Sensortec
As people care more about the effects of air quality on body health, and the trend of carry on smaller and lighter portable devices with great convenience, the new product launch of Bosch Sensortec’s environmental sensor BME680 has matched both. SMAhome has interviewed Wolfgang Schmitt, Senior Manager Strategic Marketing of Bosch Sensortec, to learn more about the new product BME680, and the company’s view on smart home industry developments.

1. What makes the Bosch BME680 special and what is different from its predecessor BME280?

BME680 is a unique 4-in-1-sensor, which combines barometric pressure, relative humidity, ambient temperature and gas sensing functions in a tiny package of just 3.0 x 3.0 x 0.95 mm³. This makes it a cost efficient solution with low temperature coefficient offset (TCO) which is easy to integrate into small, mobile battery powered devices, as well as stationary applications. Combined with its unique software algorithm, it achieves high accuracy levels for indoor VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) measurements at lowest current consumption of < 0.1 mA in ultra-low power (ULP) mode and < 1 mA in low power mode.
 
BME680 adds an all-important gas sensing function to its predecessor BME280. The gas sensor within the BME680 can detect a broad range of gases in order to measure indoor air quality for personal well-being. This includes measurement of VOCs from paints (such as formaldehyde), lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, furnishings, office equipment, glues, adhesives, alcohol and other gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen, in the part per billion (ppb) range. This gas sensing function of indoor air quality is of significant importance as people spend 90% of their lifetime inside buildings and 1/3 in bedrooms. As VOCs negatively impact indoor air quality and thus affect people’s well-being, measuring these VOCs can help improving indoor air quality, and thereby enhance people’s health and quality of life.

2. Who are the target customers of BME680 from Bosch Sensortec?

Our target customers are companies from diverse areas within the IoT, which offer products for e.g. smart home, smart buildings, and smart offices. Apart from customers in the IoT market, we also target wearables, personal weather stations and navigation systems. In general, BME680 is of interest to all customers that want to measure environmental data in terms of barometric pressure, relative humidity, ambient temperature and indoor air quality.
 
Two specific examples of consumer electronic products utilizing the BME680 include the Bosch Smart Home Twinguard, a smart smoke detector with an indoor air quality sensor and i-BLADES Smartcase, a modular phone case that as one of its features turns the smartphone into a portable indoor air quality monitor.
 
Furthermore, there are two types of customer products: battery-powered products, such as smoke detectors or wearables, and products with power connection. For battery-powered products, low power consumption is a key criterion, which should not exceed 0.2 mA. We can achieve this via the ULP mode. Regarding products with power connection, power consumption is not critical wherefore the low-power mode with < 1mA can be used.

3. How does Bosch Sensortec’s product portfolio and specifically BME680 fit for smart home market requirements?

Bosch Sensortec’s product portfolio fits very well to the emerging smart home market: we provide low- and ultra-low-power sensor solutions as well as MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) scanner systems for interactive laser projection. Along with the growing smart home market, there will be more use cases and applications where our smart motion sensor solutions ideally fit, like for smart intrusion detection.
 
Furthermore, Bosch Sensortec’s environmental sensor solutions, such as BME680, will open up new application fields in the smart home and smart building management. The same is true for the humidity sensor BME280 that is ideally suited for smart control of air conditioning and ventilation. Finally, our ultra-small interactive laser projector, the MEMS scanner BML050, opens up a completely new dimension of HMI (human-machine-interface) experience, i.e. the flexible, customizable projection of virtual user interfaces onto any kind of surface.

4. Among the segments of smart home (home security, energy management, and ambient assisted living), how does Bosch Sensortec consider the priority of technology development?

Among those three segments, smart energy management has probably a slightly higher priority because any kind of improvement in energy management has immediately a direct impact on saving energy and thus saving cost. That is where we see the big benefit of BME680: Air conditioning is only active and thus consuming energy, when the air is not good or too humid. As soon as the BME680 detects that the air quality is good again, the air ventilation can be switched off.

5. Apart from smart home, is BME680 applicable in other industries or occasions?

BME680 is not only suitable for smart home, but wherever there is a need for cost effective environmental monitoring, specifically indoor air quality measurement. Because of its additional features of pressure, humidity and temperature in addition to gas, it has broad applications in industries such as IoT and in the following industries and occasions:
  • Personal weather stations
  • Warning of dryness and high temperatures
  • Context awareness, e.g. skin humidity recognition, changes in rooms
  • Measurement of air amount and flow
  • Home automation (HVAC)
  • GPS improvement
  • Indoor navigation and floor level detection
  • Fitness tracking /well-being
  • Altitude tracking and calorie expenditure measurement during sports activities

6. What is Bosch Sensortec’s point of view regarding the development of smart connections and wearables in the future?

Both smart connected devices and wearables will be important parts of our lives. These devices will provide more and more value to us. An increasing share of this value will be based upon information that is provided by sensors.
 
Here comes Bosch Sensortec into the scene: Our MEMS sensors provide precise measurement data for valuable use cases while at the same time being small size, reliable and power saving. Bosch Sensortec will continue to develop sensors that enable further use of wearables and other connected devices in the future.

7. What is Bosch Sensortec’s perspective regarding the smart home industry in the future?

Speaking generally, compared with the smartphone market, volumes in smart home applications are still relatively small. Still, for such solutions like our BME680 indoor air quality sensor the smart home area is currently the most attractive segment. We think that for us as sensor and system manufacturer, the smart home market is currently the most promising among other IoT enabled markets. The smart home market has just started and has certainly a very big growth potential.


Product Adopted:
Energy Efficiency


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