Business/economy

Bosch Compact Internet-enabled MEMS sensors

  • How do MEMS sensors work?
  • Possible wireless connections
  • Energy supply
How do MEMS sensors work?
Engineers create sensors containing the finest silicon structures. As the casing moves, these structures shift a fraction of a thousandth of a millimeter – and their electrical properties change in the process. These properties can be measured and converted into a data stream that is capable of showing, say, a cell phone what position it is in. Bosch engineers work with incredibly small dimensions; while a human hair has a diameter of 70 thousandths of a millimeter (70 micrometers), some components measure only 4 micrometers – that is 17 times smaller than the diameter of a single human hair.

Since the micromechanical sensor produces only weak electrical signals, the developers built in another electronic component – sometimes in the casing beside the sensor, sometimes even directly on the same chip. This second component processes, amplifies, and converts the weak signal into digital data. In this way, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) sensors can supply control units directly with readings. Soon these tiny sensors will be able to do much more: they can be embedded in clothes in order to monitor heartbeat, serve as mobile weather stations measuring CO2 levels in the air, or register the typical movements people make when they put their phone in their pocket – so that the display is turned off automatically.

Possible wireless connections
There are several international standards, such as Wi-Fi, which devices use to exchange data via wireless technologies. This is how PCs send and receive data through the router next to the phone or cable outlet, for example, or how smartphones and MP3 players establish connections with PCs and routers. Bluetooth is another wireless standard, though it bridges only short distances, for instance from headphones to a cell phone or from an MP3 player to the car radio. ZigBee is an industry standard used to control maintenance-free sensors in hard-to-reach areas. Depending on the desired application, MEMS sensors can be equipped with different wireless connections.

Energy supply
Bosch strives to build MEMS sensors that are as small as possible. Internet-enabled sensors need to be able to operate on the minimum amount of power if they are not to throw this size advantage away. Since the sensors themselves require little energy, they can function with very small batteries. More power, however, is required for the transmission of data via wireless technologies. That’s why clever mechanisms ensure that data is only sent if it is absolutely necessary. Moreover, the technology is advancing; in future, new batteries will last for months or even years.

The goal is to achieve a long-lasting, maintenance-free wireless sensor; for this reason, engineers are also focusing on what is called energy harvesting, which sees energy gathered from the environment. There are several possible ways of doing this. Antennas can draw energy from radio waves present in the area. Acoustic noise also supplies energy that can be converted into electricity – as do vibrations, pressure, shock, and heat. While the quantity of energy recovered in each case is tiny, taken together they provide enough power for many applications.

Find out more on the internet
Background to energy harvesting
WiFi-Alliance
ZigBee-Alliance
Sensors for Automotive Electronics
Sensors for Consumer Electronics
Sensors – how technology maps the world around it
MEMS: the stars of the sensor world
How MEMS Sensors work
Open standard for the smart homes of the future
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  • December 16, 2013
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Bosch at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas, January 7-10 Tiny Bosch sensors for the connected life Real and virtual worlds come together

  • Senses for the internet of things and services
  • Bosch CEO Denner: “It's simply a question of when”
  • Every second smartphone worldwide uses Bosch sensors
Stuttgart/Las Vegas – Bosch is helping to build the internet of things and services one tiny sensor at a time. In future, many objects will report their status over the net, and this makes a range of new functions and business models possible. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Bosch will be presenting its tiny building blocks for connected living, along with possible applications. Known as MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) sensors, they are no more than a few millimeters in size but hold enormous potential. They contain microscopic structures that are capable of measuring acceleration, air pressure, sound, temperature, or the earth's magnetic field. Fitted with a miniature battery and a tiny radio interface, these MEMS sensors can for instance send their readings over the internet to a user's smartphone. In theory, they allow any object in everyday use to connect to the internet so it can report on its status at any time on request – an ability that holds out plenty of promise for future applications.

Bosch sensors enable smartphones to feel
MEMS sensors have long been the sensory organs for many of the mobile devices that are presented in their thousands at the world's biggest consumer electronics show. Bosch sensors enable modern electronic devices such as smartphones to “feel” and “hear” – so a smartphone “knows” how it is being held and whether it needs to rotate the image on its display. Meanwhile tiny MEMS microphones can record sounds and speech. The sensors are also applied in notebooks, tablets, smart watches, games consoles, or sports watches. Freight forwarding companies also stand to benefit, since such sensors will allow parts in storage in the warehouse to announce their number and location over the internet. Meanwhile, acceleration sensors affixed to delicate machinery will be able to confirm at any time that there has been no exposure to vibrations during transportation. What is more, if a crate fitted with such a sensor falls to the ground, the sensor can send out a warning email to a company headquarters anywhere in the world thanks to the internet.

“It's simply a question of when”
“The question now is not whether the real and virtual worlds will merge thanks to sensors such as these. It's simply a question of when,” says Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “Sensors, batteries, and transmitters can now be combined in a single unit that is so small, energy-efficient, and inexpensive that they can be put to work in their billions. At the same time, mobile data and radio networks are accessible from almost everywhere. This means the foundations are already in place for the internet of things and services.”

Bosch supplies sensors for a wide range of applications in the automotive and consumer electronics industries. Bosch has been at the forefront of MEMS technology since it first emerged, and today it generates more sales in this market than any other supplier. Since the start of production in 1995, the company has manufactured well in excess of three billion MEMS sensors. In 2012, some 600 million sensors emerged from its state-of-the-art wafer fab in Reutlingen – or 2.4 million each working day. Now every second smartphone worldwide uses Bosch sensors.

“These networked sensors make it possible to recognize and interact with the surroundings. A whole range of new solutions will emerge, offering more comfort, safety, and energy efficiency – and saving users' time and money,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, who sits on the Bosch board of management. “As of today, there's no limit to the new applications, functions, and business models that our sensors will allow. We see huge potential here.”

Connected to the world
MEMS sensors were originally developed for use in cars, for instance in skid detection for the ESP® electronic stability program. Today each modern vehicle is home to up to 50 of MEMS sensors. They support significant safety and comfort functions such as “Adaptive Cruise Control” (ACC) or softer gear changing of automatic gearboxes. All these sensors have turned cars into suppliers of data for what is known as the automotive cloud, which is already providing drivers with valuable additional information in various situations and connecting them ever more closely to the world in real time.

Security and comfort anywhere, anytime
At the CES, Bosch will be presenting how sensors are a key enabler of the Internet of Things and Services. A network of wireless sensors will constantly gather and report information about the immediate environment. Users can learn which doors are open or closed, how loud it is, and how the temperature, air pressure, and humidity at various points around the booth changed over the course of the day. An automatic vacuum cleaner featuring MEMS sensors and an integrated WiFi module continuously reports its position. Thanks to these combined sensors, the Bosch booth will showcase how devices connected to each other via sensors continuously exchange and provide useful information. Bosch recently announced that it will work together with ABB, Cisco and LG on an open standard to support a software platform for the smart home of the future.

In-vehicle infotainment, electric vehicle charging, and more
In addition to MEMS sensors, Bosch will demonstrate technologies enabling the connected vehicle, including next-generation telediagnostics, electric vehicle charging, in-vehicle infotainment and driver assistance systems. Bosch is sponsoring the “Driverless Car” experience at CES 2014, where the milestones toward driverless mobility will be explored and demonstrate technologies such as automatic park assist, predictive emergency braking and “mySPIN” smartphone integration in a designated area outside the fair. The company will also illustrate several areas of competence, including eBikes to inverters for energy storage, start-stop vehicles to HD video surveillance and intrusion control to net-zero enabling thermotechnology.

Bosch booth at the 2014 CES
Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center (LVCC),
South Hall 1, Stand 20812

Bosch events at the 2014 CES
Press conference with Bosch board of management member
Dr. Werner Struth: Monday, January 6, 2014, 8 a.m. (Las Vegas local time),
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Level 3 - Banyan Ballrooms A-D,
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Panel discussion with Bosch board of management member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel:
“Road to Driverless Mobility”: Dienstag, 7. Januar 15:00 Uhr (local time), Las Vegas Convention Center, North Hall, Room N262.

Speech by Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner, Managing Director, Bosch Sensortec:
“Hardware-software co-design: the secret to sensor fusion” (as part of the “MEMS sensor fusion – revolutionizing the internet of things” session,
Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 2:25-2:50 p.m. (Las Vegas local time),
Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N261, North Hall.

Further information available online
Bosch Sensors for Automotive Electronics
Sensors for Consumer Electronics from Bosch Sensortec
MEMS Microphones
Sensors – how technology maps the world around it
MEMS: the stars of the sensor world
How MEMS Sensors work
Open standard for the smart homes of the future
Telematics solutions from Bosch

Video: Wafer-fab and sensor manufacturing

Click here to find further information.

Automotive Technology is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2012, its sales came to 31.1 billion euros, or 59 percent of total group sales. This makes the Bosch Group one of the leading automotive suppliers. Its roughly 177,000 Automotive Technology associates worldwide mainly work in the following areas of business: injection technology for internal-combustion engines, alternative powertrain concepts, efficient and networked powertrain peripherals, systems for active and passive driving safety, assistance and comfort functions, technology for user-friendly infotainment as well as car-to-car and Car2X communication, and concepts, technology, and service for the automotive aftermarket. Bosch has been responsible for important automotive innovations, such as electronic engine management, the ESP® anti-skid system, and common-rail diesel technology.

Bosch Sensortec GmbH is a fully owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH. It develops and markets micro-mechanical sensors for consumer electronics, mobile phones, safety systems, industrial technology and logistics. The product portfolio includes triaxial geomagnetic and acceleration sensors, triaxial gyroscopes, barometric pressure sensors and a comprehensive software portfolio for various applications. Since its foundation in 2005, Bosch Sensortec has emerged as the technology leader in the addressed markets. The Bosch Group has been the global market leader for MEMS sensors since 1998 and has to date sold more than 3 billion MEMS sensors.

For more information, go to www.bosch-sensortec.com

Akustica is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group and a top supplier of silicon microphone products that are improving voice-input quality in a host of voice-enabled applications, from mobile handsets, tablets, and headsets to internet telephony on notebooks and PC camera modules. The company offers worldwide customer support services, from design-in services to post-production quality assurance. Akustica is a global organization with corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA, regional offices in Taiwan and Shanghai, and a worldwide team of distributors.

For more information about Akustica, go to: www.akustica.com.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In fiscal 2012, its roughly 306,000 associates generated sales of 52.5 billion euros. Since the beginning of 2013, its operations have been divided into four business sectors: Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 360 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 50 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Bosch spent some 4.8 billion euros for research and development in 2012, and applied for nearly 4,800 patents worldwide. The Bosch Group's products and services are designed to fascinate, and to improve the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial. In this way, the company offers technology worldwide that is "Invented for life."

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

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  • December 16, 2013
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Internet of things and services Monaco and Bosch are working on the connected city of tomorrow

  • System connectivity in the fields of mobility, energy, safety, and communication
  • “Monaco 3.0” pilot project uses the technological potential of the internet of things and services
  • Monaco to become a highly connected city by 2015
Monaco/Paris/Stuttgart – Since mid-November 2013, the Principality of Monaco has been using new Bosch technologies for digital connectivity. This marks the first step in implementing the cooperation agreement signed in July 2012 by the Principality of Monaco and the Bosch Group. The agreement aims to find the best possible way of realizing the concept of a connected city.

The project will initially focus on mobility. City infrastructure and public services – such as bus networks, parking lot management, paper and waste collection, and information on roadwork – will be connected virtually, providing local residents with real-time information. This will make it possible for citizens and visitors to the principality to interact with local government directly and without red tape. Communication between various service providers will also be improved. If one of the hilly city’s many elevators or escalators is not working properly, residents and visitors will be able to immediately find out where there is a functioning alternative or inform services if there is a need for maintenance.

“Bosch technology and solutions will enable Monaco to be a leading connected city. As a result, Monaco is a pioneer in making innovative use of the technological potential of the internet of things and services,” says Volkmar Denner, chairman of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management. The Principality of Monaco and Bosch also plan to work together on efficient energy-saving solutions, and in this way to make a contribution to sustainability.

Bosch is connecting the virtual and physical worlds and driving the development of the internet of things and services. Today, the company already plays a leading role in the development and use of intelligent sensors. Bosch’s competence in systems integration and control will create tangible benefits for tomorrow’s city dwellers.

Contact person for press inquiries (Germany):
Andrej Heinke, phone: +49 711 811-38195

Contact person for press inquiries (France):
Harald Frank, phone + 33 1 40 10 76 70

Click here to find further information.

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  • December 12, 2013
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“Outstanding contribution to innovation” Dr. Christof Bosch receives Diesel Medal in recognition of the Bosch Group's exceptional technological leadership

  • Special ownership structure proves its worth
  • Consistently high levels of investment in research and development
  • Innovations that bring real benefit and increase quality of life
Stuttgart/Munich – Dr. Christof Bosch has been awarded the 2013 Diesel Medal for “Outstanding contribution to innovation” on behalf of the Bosch Group. This medal was awarded by Germany's Institute for Inventions (Deutsches Institut für Erfindungswesen) in recognition of the exceptional technological leadership and innovative strength apparent across so many areas of the company, as well as the sheer ingenuity demonstrated by this leading global supplier of technology and services. The award was presented in the Hall of Fame at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany's premier technology museum, by the chairman of the institute, Dr. Heiner Pollert, and the chairman of the Diesel Medal board of trustees, Prof. Alexander Wurzer. Christof Bosch was joined by four of Bosch's 2013 “Inventors of the Year” in accepting the award on behalf of the over 42,000 researchers within the Bosch Group.

There is a long tradition of innovation at Bosch. The company lodged its first patent in 1897, and by 1909 there was already a department dedicated to patents, brands, and licenses. It is a history that has made itself felt in the public consciousness: “Bosch is a stalwart of the German industrial scene. For the German automotive industry, Bosch has been – and remains – a crucial technological partner that is at the very forefront of ground-breaking developments. The award of the Diesel Medal for outstanding contribution to innovation recognizes the top spot Bosch has occupied for so many years. And given my responsibility for development as a member of the management board at BMW AG, it is something that gives me particular pleasure,” said Dr. Herbert Diess in his tribute to Christof Bosch.

Bosch corporate constitution proves its worth
“Robert Bosch GmbH's special ownership structure guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments to safeguard its future,” said Christof Bosch at the Diesel Medal award ceremony. “I am delighted that our researchers' innovation has been brought to the attention of a wider audience and rewarded with this Diesel Medal.”

“In a series of guidelines, as he called them, Robert Bosch set down his tenets for successfully managing a company,” Christof Bosch continued. “Here he says that a company should in fact serve the community – that what benefits business and what benefits society are two sides of the same coin.” Today, these principles live on in the twin institutions of Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch Stiftung. The company is now continuing along the path of dynamic development that Robert Bosch set out for it, while Robert Bosch Stiftung fulfills his vision of social engagement for the common good. Including a foundation in the company structure is almost unique in Germany, and serves as a model for how to successfully continue a family business after the founder has died. It guarantees the autonomy of the company and allows it to pursue the “strong and meaningful development” its founder Robert Bosch would have wanted.

About Dr. Christof Bosch
As the Bosch family spokesperson, Christof Bosch is a long-standing member of all the company's important governing bodies, which gives him a significant say in the direction the company takes. He is a member of the board of trustees of Robert Bosch Stiftung, a partner in Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, and a member of the supervisory board of Robert Bosch GmbH. These wide-ranging functions give him a broad insight into all aspects of the company, allowing him to support the long-term and sustainable corporate strategy of the Bosch Group that his grandfather, the company founder Robert Bosch, would have wanted.

“60 years of the Diesel Medal”
On the initiative of Eugen Diesel, the son of Rudolf Diesel, the Diesel Medal was launched in 1952 and awarded for the first time in 1953. It is Germany's oldest innovation prize, and is awarded by the charitable Deutsches Institut für Erfindungswesen. Now in its sixtieth year, the Diesel Medal helps to raise the public profile of inventors and innovative companies and to support their work.

Internet links:

Bosch milestones in research and development

Find out more about automated driving

Development of diesel and Bosch common rail – from crude beginnings to powerful and economical direct injection

Overview of the diesel market from China to the U.S.

Video portal:

Diesel around the globe

Diesel hybrids
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  • November 29, 2013
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