IEEE Issues Standard For Sensors, Tiny Machines

A new standard published by the IEEE may accelerate the spread and use of the Internet of Things: providing a common reference to govern the performance of  microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS.

Analog Devices MEMS
MEMS – or microelectromechanical systems – are manufactured by many firms and typically combine combine moving parts or sensors with electronic components.


The standard, IEEE 2700-2014, was recently approved by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Standards Board. It will provide a common methodology for specifying the performance of tiny sensors that are becoming more and more common in consumer electronics and other industries. That should make it easier for vendors , including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to begin integrating two or more sensors without having to worry about integration challenges.

The standards apply to a wide range of small sensors that currently populate everything from mobile phones to wearable devices like Apple’s newly announced smart watch. These include accelerometers, magnetometers, gyrometers and gyroscopes, barometers and other pressure sensors, humidity sensors, temperature sensors, ambient light sensors and proximity sensors, IEEE said.

“The industry has been struggling to scale this technology across all platforms, because of the need to accommodate all sensor types from numerous vendors and all of the variations of those sensor types,” said Ken Foust, chair of the IEEE 2700 Working Group. “This new industry standard is intended to reduce costs in working with sensors and help accelerate time to market.”

“The IEEE 2700 standard will be beneficial in the design of future technologies, such as the Internet of Everything that includes the Internet of Things, next generation of the cloud, telemedicine, augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-pedestrian communications,” said Herbert Bennett, chairman of the IEEE Electron Devices Society MEMS Standards Sponsor Committee for the IEEE-SA 2700 Working Group and NIST fellow and executive advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), MEMS are a “class of tiny machines, typically far less than a millimeter in size, that combine moving parts or sensors with electronic components.” Examples of MEMS that are already in use include motion detectors embedded in mobile phones and tablets, as well as sensors that are used to determine when to deploy airbags or collision avoidance features in automobiles, NIST said. The use of MEMS is expected to grow and spread, as the Internet of Things works its way into the built environment, transportation, critical infrastructure and elsewhere.

“The diversity of these sensing devices demands new industry standards to ensure their compatibility,” said NIST in a statement. Thr Institute was among the organizations that contributed to the development of the new standard.

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