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Europe leads innovation in printed sensors, market researcher says

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By eeNews Europe

In terms of technology, the USA and Asia are not falling behind. Nevertheless, there are three reasons why Europe is more innovative anyway:

  • Applications. The Europeans have internalised that no technology is a purpose in itself, technology always is a means to an end. For this reason, companies and research institutes in Europe are particularly innovative in developing new applications for printed sensors. IDTechex instances Oslo-based company Thinfilm Technologies. The Norwegians devised a temperature sensing system, implemented in printed electronics. These sensors will be much cheaper than conventional temperature data loggers. Thinfilm utilises technology developed by South African company PST Sensors and brought it to volume production maturity.
  • Dynamic mix of industries which contribute their expertise and drive demand. The R&D sector along with industries combine in an ideal way. IDTechex quotes Laurent Jamet, co-founder of French company Isorg which in a joint effort with Plastic Logic from Dresden has developed an organic large-area image sensor. Jamet associates Europe’s position in organic electronics to its specific combination of expertise from the organic materials industry along with sensor design know-how from the conventional semiconductor industry. Plus, as Jamet puts it, "a market pull of different industries in France, Germany and the UK".
  • Government R&D funding. Europe has a large number of printed electronics R&D institutions with facilities for prototyping and process development. Their activities are in part funded by regional and national public authorities and the European Union. Collaboration between commercial companies and academic research institutions is encouraged and stimulated through funding. As an example, the market researcher quotes the SIMS project (Smart Integrated Miniaturised Sensor System) which devised a point-of-are biosensing platform. Another EU-funded project was FlexSMELL whose focus was designing an olfaction system for smart packaging applications. The sensor aims at the logistic chain of perishable goods.

According to IDTechex, the printed sensor technology is currently approaching the transition point from the R&D stadium with prototypes to commercial production. During the current year, several sensors will start shipping to end users. By 2020, the market volume will reach $120 million. And the future trends? Not surprisingly, IDTechex predicts that the Internet of Things will boost demand for printed sensors. Other sensor sinks will be the markets of wearable devices and e-textiles.

Read also

Slideshow: Top 10 sensor trends to follow

Environmental sensors will thrive in consumer, wearable products

Flexible image sensor on plastic – a world’s first by ISORG and Plastic Logic


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