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MEMS sensors – key components for the Internet of Things

Although they are only the size of a pinhead, they change our daily lives in many areas: tiny micro-electro-mechanical sensors.

Until now, these MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors have been used mainly in vehicles and in entertainment and communication technologies to perform special functions. However, the future fields of application for MEMS sensors are much more diverse and fascinating – MEMS sensors have become key components for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The global market for connected mobility is expected to grow by close to 25% annually up until 2022 (source: pwc strategy&). Thanks to the use of MEMS sensors, the vehicle will be an active part of the IoT in just a few years and will also be able to communicate with other means of transportation and the smart home.

SMA6xy - high-g acceleration sensor

With the help of the IoT, existing sensor signals can now enable further functions and services. One example is the long serving, extremely reliable MEMS acceleration sensor for airbag systems.

It has been delivering its signal to the airbag control unit for more than 20 years. The signal from the current SMA6xy sensor platform is now also transmitted from the airbag control unit via the vehicle's bus system to a radio module, which makes contact with a cloud.

Bosch Service solutions
Bosch Service Solutions

That is where clever algorithms are used to process the signal and in the event of a serious accident, an eCall service is automatically activated. The Bosch service center agent alerts the emergency services and also sends the location data.

The EU expects that eCall will save 2,500 lives each year and reduce the number of people who are seriously injured by 15 percent.

As of March 31, 2018, EU regulations require manufacturers in Europe to install such an emergency call system in new passenger car and light commercial vehicle models.

Bosch offers an extensive eCall range featuring telematics solutions and services.

By the beginning of 2017, Bosch had already connected more than 5 million devices. The goal is to connect around 25 million devices by 2019.

Telematics eCall Plug | TEP

The Telematics eCall Plug TEP from Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions is available for retrofitting this life-saving service.

With this small plug, eCall can be installed via a 12V interface, typically the cigarette lighter. In this case, the acceleration sensor is in the plug and the emergency call is triggered via the driver's smartphone. This device is already available from many car insurance companies.

Bosch IoT
Bosch Internet of Things

Bosch is working on further IoT-based vehicle functions that access the signals from existing MEMS sensors.

One example is the Predictive Road Condition Services. Using the MEMS sensors of the Electronic Stability Program ESP®, this Bosch service determines whether the road surface has a good grip or how slippery it is.

Supplemented by data from weather stations, for example, it calculates the current and expected friction values. These are passed on to connected vehicles in real time via a cloud. The driver or an autonomously driving car can then adjust its driving behavior accordingly to avoid critical situations

Bosch turns into an IT company with the goal of playing a major role in shaping the Internet of Things.

The company addresses the entire IoT value chain from sensors to services. As the world's leading supplier of MEMS sensors, Bosch is ideally positioned for the Internet of Things, the implementation of which requires a huge number of sensors.

The close to 10 billion MEMS sensors produced to date at the Reutlingen semiconductor factory (“wafer fab”) are proof positive that Bosch is well equipped to meet this challenge. One of the major tasks in the near future will be to develop powerful, energy-efficient, and cost-effective MEMS sensors for new connectivity solutions – an area in which Bosch is currently investing a lot of effort. Linking static data with live data from vehicles and the environment is a prerequisite for safer, more comfortable and more efficient mobility solutions.