Pressure Calibration in Consumer Electronics

03/27/2019
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Our homes are filled with pressure sensors. From smart phones, watches and washing machines, the 21st century consumer is accustomed to having the most accurate measurements when it comes to GPS tracking, altitude changes, even the amount of water required to launder clothes. Pressure sensors and the high-end sensors used to calibrate them are some of the components that make these features possible.

Smart phones and wearables

Most phones, fitness trackers and smartwatches are equipped with GPS tracking and a barometer. The use of the GPS tracker is obvious - you move from place to place and the GPS can measure your distance and speed based on your departure and arrival time. It does this by pinging a satellite in Earth’s orbit that updates your location. But, what happens if you lose your phone signal? Modern devices can still track vertical movement through the use of a barometer.

While GPS coordinates your horizontal position, a barometer coordinates your vertical position. This aids GPS tracking while indoors, in large cities where GPS signals can get lost or bounced between tall buildings, and when you have poor signal. A barometer’s reading can detect changes in altitude, which is how your phone tracks how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, how many calories you burned on a multi-terrain run, and when you go from sitting to standing. The barometer can’t track your movement on its own but it aids GPS in giving the end user the most accurate location and movement data possible.

Smart appliances

Pressure sensors also make our homes more comfortable and energy efficient. Homes today are filled with “smart” thermostats, washers, dryers, and stoves. Smart vents have been in use for some time, and work in tandem with a smart thermostat for full climate control. With a smart thermostat, you can regulate the temperature in your home. You can place sensors in different rooms to measure the temperature. These sensors can communicate with the central thermostat to regulate the temperature in a prioritized zone. While one room may be the set temperature, others may still be hotter or colder. Smart vents use pressure sensors to give users even more control over how much air flows into each room. Smart vents measure air pressure and air flow, and adjust accordingly so each room can truly be the temperature set on your smart thermostat without overcooling or overheating others.

Smart Thermostat

Washing machines often use piezoresistive pressure sensors to regulate water level. Water level was once measured based on how much time the water runs into the wash drum. However, this method for measuring water level can be inaccurate due to a clogged pipe or changes in water flow rate or pressure. By using a pressure sensor to measure the water level itself, not just the time, the drum fills to the appropriate level, resulting in cleaner clothes and potentially less water use.

Calibration

Although we come in contact with these sensors every day, behind the scenes, laboratory grade transducers are used for calibration. What makes these sensors different?

The biggest difference between consumer sensors and those found only in the calibration laboratory is size and accuracy. The 0.01% accuracy of a calibration grade sensor isn’t needed in consumer technology. It wouldn’t provide a notable benefit to the average consumer. What is important in smart devices and appliances is first and foremost size, low power consumption and an accuracy often averaging about 0.1%.

While Mensor technology will not be found in your washing machine or watch, it’s likely those sensors have been calibrated by Mensor sensors. Most pressure sensors require a device four to ten times more accurate for calibration. At Mensor, we supply the calibration solutions and standards for many consumer products on the market today.

Learn more about Mensor's line of pressure transducers

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Author

Kellie Bucy

Kellie Bucy

Technical Content Writer

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