IoT Sensors Advancing the 5 Human Senses

By Ben Ahrens Published on May. 27, 2023

For millennia, humans operated solely with their five traditional senses — vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. But in today's ever-evolving Internet of Things (IoT) landscape, these rudimentary senses are no longer enough to capture the contextual data that can inform business decisions or enrich lifestyles. With the introduction of advanced IoT sensors into the mix, companies and individuals alike are now able to access more reliable data sets than ever before — all without having to expand beyond those original five senses. This sensor technology is seeing exponential growth in many areas, especially within the Mobility industry, with vehicles becoming increasingly hyperconnected, allowing for a more personalized and efficient driving experience. Explore how modern IoT sensor technology is transforming our perceptions by adding additional layers of information beyond what humans can sense naturally.

Quick insights

  • IoT sensors are devices that collect and transmit data to generate real-time insights and enhance decision-making.
  • Visual sensors, such as smart cameras and surveillance systems, can provide additional layers of security for businesses, vehicles, and homes.
  • AI-powered audio sensors can be used to augment hearing capabilities and detect anomalies in the environment.
  • Biochemical sensors can measure smell and taste at the molecular level, revolutionizing food product development processes.
  • Smart wearables are enhancing touch sensations by providing more realistic reactions when interacting with digital devices.
  • With continued development in sensor technology, humanity is able to push the boundaries of what it means to be human.
iot sensors_5 Senses Infographic_05-18-23

What are IoT sensors, and how do they work?

Put simply, IoT sensors are small devices that collect and transmit data about the environment around them. This data is then extracted using an application layer, analyzed in real-time, and used to generate valuable insights about the monitored environment. This could include anything from air quality readings to traffic patterns or user behavior monitoring.

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Integrating multiple data sources can yield valuable insights and informed environmental decision-making. IoT sensors can monitor a wide range of variables like temperature, humidity, pressure, light intensity, flow rate, vibration intensity, air quality, and more.

Utilizing visual sensors to enhance sight

Smart cameras and video surveillance systems are becoming increasingly popular as a way to enhance security in homes and businesses.

iot sensors_home security_visual sensor

Startups like Wyze Labs are leading the way in offering innovative solutions that provide affordable, reliable systems to help keep people safe. Their smart home camera/security system allows users to monitor their property remotely through their mobile devices, giving them peace of mind that their belongings are secure.

The system also uses visual sensors to alert users when there is unusual activity in the area, allowing for quick action in case of an emergency. In addition, smart cameras and video surveillance systems can be used to protect car owners from theft and other crimes, making hyperconnected cars even more secure.

Visual sensors are revolutionizing security and giving people the assurance they need without breaking the bank.

Exploring the possibilities of augmented hearing with AI-powered audio sensors

The possibilities of augmented hearing with AI-powered audio sensors, microphones, and noise sensors are exciting. Startups like Minut are developing devices that can measure and log noise levels, temperature, humidity, and motion in the vicinity of the sensor. This creates a robust environment for AI-driven sound analysis and interpretation, which could be used to improve hearing aids or even to develop new ways of augmenting human hearing.

Curious about other ways that IoT companies are advancing our senses? Learn more bychecking out recent startup presentations from similar companies like Sensio Air during our2022 Silicon Valley IoT November Summit.

These sensors can help focus on specific sounds while filtering out excess noise and detect anomalies that would have otherwise been unnoticed. For instance, IoT sensors can alert drivers to potential hazards in vehicle safety and provide audio warnings when necessary, promoting safer driving. As these sensors continue advancing, it's highly probable that we will see more innovative applications of this technology in both consumer and professional markets, opening up endless possibilities for more efficient and effective solutions.

Harnessing aroma and taste with biochemical sensors

IoT companies are leveraging the power of smell and taste to offer their customers a unique experience. For example, startup companies like Aryballe use biochemical sensors and machine learning to analyze smell data. Combining biochemical sensors with machine learning algorithms allows Aryballe to identify and measure smells at the molecular level accurately. This technology has many potential applications in areas such as smart homes and health care.

iot sensors_steaming dumplings_smell and taste senors

Ajinomatrix, a startup currently in Plug and Play's Food & Beverage accelerator program, is another startup revolutionizing food industry research with AI-powered taste and smell sensitivity software. The groundbreaking technology can quickly measure subtleties in flavor and odor, providing easily interpretable data to users, thereby helping them confidently make fast and accurate decisions. Their aim is to transform food product development processes by considering the under-appreciated role of smell in creating better culinary experiences. This was also a key conversation topic among panelists from a recent panel discussion on the future of quick-service restaurants and the technology that they are implementing to stay ahead — be sure to check out the full panel below.

Aroma and taste-sensing technologies are becoming increasingly popular among IoT companies as they strive to provide their consumers with enhanced experiences. These technologies can potentially revolutionize how we interact with our environment through devices that can detect even the slightest differences in scent or flavor. With continued development and support from startups like Aryballe and Ajinomatrix, IoT companies will be able to capitalize on these advancements to improve customer satisfaction levels across various industries.

Enhancing the sense of touch through digital IoT sensors

iot sensors_touchpad_touch sensors

People's sense of touch is being enhanced with smart wearables like those from Sensel, a startup specializing in creating pressure, vibration, and temperature sensors for automated systems. Sensel's advanced solutions for touch, force, and haptics allow users to interact with the digital world in ways like never before.

These technologies allow people to experience more realistic sensations and reactions when interacting with digital devices. This will enable users to be immersed in their interactions with the digital world as if they were actually touching physical objects. Sensel is working on developing next-wave interactive touch technologies that will not just give users more control over their interaction but also provide them with a more immersive experience.

iot sensors_car ignition button_touch sensors

Another instance of IoT sensor implementation is in cars, where touch sensors are being placed in the ignition button or gear shifter to prevent starting the car if a high blood alcohol level is detected. Although still in the prototype stage, this is looking to be achieved, through startups like DADSS, by shining an infrared light on the skin of the driver’s finger, with a portion reflected back to the skin’s surface. The touchpad then collects this light and analyzes it to determine the skin’s unique chemical properties, including alcohol concentration, where it can then prohibit vehicle use if the driver is deemed over the blood alcohol limit.

In tandem, the US federal government is looking to establish new legislation to prevent drunk driving by mandating “advanced drunk and impaired driving technology,” such as the aforementioned touch sensors, into all new passenger motor vehicles. As specified in the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the government has three years after the date of the enactment of the act to issue a final rule. With hopes that such sensor requirements will reduce the thousands of annual fatalities in the US due to drunk and impaired driving, the future seems optimistic.

As technology advances, touch sensors are playing a critical role in enabling a variety of applications. From providing crucial safety features in autonomous vehicles to unlocking new levels of intuitive interaction with technology, touch sensors are becoming increasingly invaluable.

Developing uses of human sense augmentation in daily life

The potential applications of human sense augmentation in everyday life are virtually limitless. From improving safety and security measures to providing medical professionals with better diagnostic capabilities, these advances in IoT sensor technology have the potential to revolutionize how we interact with our environment.

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Increased awareness and control over our physical surroundings can lead to improved quality of life, increased efficiency, and even provide a more immersive entertainment experience. As research continues to develop new technologies that augment the five senses, humanity will be able to push the boundaries of what it means to be human.

List of startups

  1. Wyze Labs: Offers innovative solutions that provide affordable, reliable systems to help keep people safe.
  2. Minut: Measures and logs noise levels, temperature, humidity, and motion in the vicinity of the sensor.
  3. Aryballe: Combines biochemical sensors, advanced optics, and ML in a single objective solution to collect, display, and analyze odor data
  4. Ajinomatrix: Uses AI-powered taste and smell sensitivity software to transform food development.
  5. Sensel: Offers advanced solutions for touch, force, and haptics to allow users to interact with the digital world in new ways.
  6. DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety): Collaborative research endeavor that aims to invent, test, commercialize, and deploy new technologies for detecting alcohol in commercial vehicles, ensuring safer roads for all.

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