January 7, 2014
CES 2014: Bosch Gives Glimpse Behind The Scenes Of Future Technology
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
You may see the name Bosch on power tools and appliances, but what you might not realize is that the German company provides the parts and technologies behind devices in industries as diverse as automotives, mobile devices and healthcare. The company has a hand in shaping emerging technologies, even when its name isn’t blazoned on the front of the final product. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the company offered a glimpse into how it is shaping the consumer electronics and automotive industry.
One key area where Bosch is making a name for itself – if not putting its name on a product itself – is in MEMS sensors, or microelectromechanical systems. Several applications that Bosh is working on in this area are in making sensors for smartphones to measure humidity and other environmental factors. While the sensors are integrated into mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, they are used as companions to home automation applications, such as moderating temperature in zones of a home. The sensors also have applications in sports and fitness.
In order to give the technology proper attention, Bosch formed the Bosch Sensortec unit, which oversees the development and marketing of MEMS sensors. MEMS sensors have increasingly become a big part of emerging technologies. A recent forecast from analyst firm TechNavio projected that the global MEMS accelerometer market will grow 8.2 percent between 2012 and 2016. One factor attributed to the growth in the MEMS market mentioned in the forecast is a decline in the prices of MEMS technology.
At CES on Monday, Bosch introduced the BME280 Integrated Environmental Unit, a sensor built into smartphones and tablets developed to support applications such as indoor navigation, home automation control, personalized weather stations, and sports and fitness applications. In the case of a personalized weather station, the sensor can determine the percentage of humidity surrounding the device in just one second, and use it to report on ambient temperatures.
The sensor can also detect barometric pressure and other environmental factors to determine the weather in the immediate area, or advise users to adjust their indoor environment. For example, if the humidity level is too low, it may advise a user to turn on a humidifier.
A smartphone integrated with the BME280 sensor has the ability to work in tandem with devices such as the Nest Learning Thermostat in order to regulate the temperature in a particular room of a house where a user is actually located, CNET reports.
Another area where Bosh technologies can be found under the hood is in the automotive industry. The company provides technologies and solutions for the inner workings of automobiles from the chassis systems to the increasingly futuristic multimedia setups.
While Bosch has a presence in more than one area behind the wheel, it is autonomous driving that the company is talking about at CES. Bosch is demonstrating self-driving vehicles – on a course instead of the Las Vegas strip – at the show. Though fully autonomous automobiles are still a few years away and currently undergoing rigorous testing, the industry is benefiting from the growing interest and incremental advancements in the field.
The area where the technology has reached the street is in parking assistance systems. Parking assistance is available in a variety of models from several automotive manufacturers. Bosh and other providers in the industry have developed systems that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and let the vehicle do the work to squeeze into that tight parallel parking spot.
Bosch introduced an app-based parking assist system that allows the driver to exit the vehicle, swipe the smartphone screen, and let the vehicle park itself. By 2015 Bosh’s automatic parking assistant is expected to make its market debut. The system will enable a fully-automatic parking into and out of selected parking spaces, while drivers will be free to focus on controlling the process, while the car can handle the tight turns required to squeeze into a tricky spot.
It might not always say Bosch on the outside, but the company powers some innovative technologies that are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives.