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The core advantage of data is that it tells you something about the world that you didn’t know before.

Hilary Mason

For 2021, we are beginning to see some interesting innovation regarding Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. There is a clear trend emerging this year in sensor designs. Manufacturers are bringing together many sensing technologies into a single unified and harmonized sensor. They are adding local sensor edge intelligence to make build upon the raw sensor reads and generate derived data for even more values from these combination sensors.

By concatenating data from the myriad of sensors technologies that are colocated within these new next generation combination sensors, many new determinations can be understood, calculated, and derived.

Think of these new sensors as the Swiss Army Knife of sensors – many tools in one tiny innovative package.

Here are a few examples recently introduced at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2021). While most of the event was held virtually due to COVID, that did not stop the inventors from launching some rather intriguing new solutions.

AiS Multitool Sensor

The AiS Multitool sensor brings together multiple sensors and smart home controls into one device, making it the “Swiss Army knife” of sensors, according to the vendor, Direct Smarter Technology. The device connects with a smartphone and comes with a total of 12 sensors, which can detect fire, tilting, vibration, humidity, glass breaking and daylight, among other things. It also comes with four smart home control functions for controlling, securing and monitoring a property. In addition, the device can be used to control electrical devices directly. It’s available for $198.

Bio Kiosk

The Bio Kiosk is a new lobby phone-style biometric authentication concept from smart home and security vendor ConMax that is meant to serve as an access control interface for buildings. The appliance comes with multiple authentication methods, thanks to sensors and HD cameras, including by face, iris, palm and fingerprint. The appliance can also measure body temperature in under a second and detect if users are wearing face coverings. Details on availability and pricing were not available.

DiCE Smart

DiCE SMART is an IoT gateway that can be controlled through hand gestures. Plus, it can illuminate different colors, either for aesthetic purposes or to indicate new statuses from connected smart home devices. The gateway allows users to control and monitor smart home devices, and it supports interoperability with many certified Zigbee products. The gateway comes with different kinds of sensors depending on the bundle configuration. The air sensor, for instance, can monitor air quality by measuring temperature, humidity and volatile organic compounds and prompt the gateway to light up certain colors to indicate changes. The gateway’s illuminated colors can also be customized for aesthetic purposes. Details on availability and pricing were not available.


The mini-H is a small high-resolution 60 GHz IoT radar sensor that can be used for elderly care, home automation and telehealth applications. The sensor, from sensor maker Bitsensing, can detect presence, movement, breathing, falls and gestures, even with clothes or blankets, and it can operate in dark or wet places. The sensor, which can be mounted to a wall, measures at 50 by 50 millimeters, roughly twice the size of a U.S. dollar coin, and it comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Details on pricing and availability were not available.


Oval is an all-in-one sensor that sends real-time alerts for theft, water leaks and other sudden or gradual changes in surroundings. The tiny device has sensors for light, humidity, temperature, motion and water, and it can send alerts when small or big changes are detected by those sensors, making it a versatile product that can serve multiple purposes. The device comes with a smartphone app that allows users to set thresholds and conditions for when alerts are sent. The device requires an Oval hub, which can connect to up to 15 Oval sensors and supports integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT for smart home automation. Two Oval sensors and one Oval hub costs $199 while a single Oval sensor costs $79. They are now available at Amazon.


So, by combining data values from many integrated sensors within a single housing and bundling this data into a smart edge processor, new data can be derived from the myriad of raw sources to construct new data values and formulate values that can be further analyzed and understood, either at the edge itself or back in the cloud after the concatenated data is uploaded.

It is similar to how humans work. We hear, see, smell, and touch, all to understand the world around us. We then use our brains to process these input senses and attempt to better understand their contextual meaning. Once we conceive some awareness of the combined human sensor values, we share the results by speaking them to others. We use all five of our human senses to say, “that is hot, do not touch it”. Or, step back from the edge, “the fall will hurt you”. Or, “careful, a car is coming fast”. In the same way these next generation sensors combine sensors to create a wider and deeper understanding of the world around us.

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Martin, D. (2021). 8 Cool IoT Sensors And Devices That Stole The Show At CES 2021. CRN Magazine, The Channel Co. Retrieved on January 24, 2021 from

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About the Author:

Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).  He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.  He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.