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Printed Electronics World
Posted on May 26, 2011 by  & 

Pressure sensor foils for smart shelves

Smart shop shelves may soon be helping with inventory management, stock control and even pest control using pressure sensor foils with integrated components.
Holst Centre and plastic electronic a technology company specialising in the development and production of intelligent multilayer surfaces have successfully integrated several active components, previously mounted on a separate PCB, directly into plastic electronic's flexible, intelligent sensor foil surface for shelving.
plastic electronic has developed a large area pressure sensor foil that detects the changing of objects on a shelf which could be used for a range of applications in retail, hotels and hospitals.
The companies are working to reduce the amount of wiring in the foil significantly as part of the program "Integration Technologies for Flexible Systems". With more space for sensors and fewer 'dead zones' between the sensors, the resulting foil is much more accurate. And with the electronics closer to the sensors, connecting wires are shorter, making the product less prone to interference and noise and improving signal reliability. Furthermore, where previously an analog signal was output from the foil, the output is now digital, creating a much more stable connection and providing a more reliable read-out. Finally, with several components integrated directly into the foil, external wiring is also reduced.
The active components integrated into the sensor foil include a multiplexer chip and a capacitive-to-digital converter, along with a number of passive components such as resistors and capacitors. The partnership is already exploring the next steps, including how to integrate the components into the foil in bare die form.
The program is also looking at ways to replace surface mounted resistors and capacitors, with passive components printed directly onto the foils. It will also investigate methods for scaling up the integration techniques to enable full volume production and, ultimately to develop a completely reel-to-reel production process.
The achievement results from successful collaboration in the Shared Research programs at Holst Centre. The generic research created in this program is shared by all program partners. It's up to these partners, like plastic electronic, to successfully translate the research results into next generation products.
Reference: Holst Centre
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