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1.  Microelectromechanical Resonant Accelerometer Designed with a High Sensitivity 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(12):30293-30310.
This paper describes the design and experimental evaluation of a silicon micro-machined resonant accelerometer (SMRA). This type of accelerometer works on the principle that a proof mass under acceleration applies force to two double-ended tuning fork (DETF) resonators, and the frequency output of two DETFs exhibits a differential shift. The dies of an SMRA are fabricated using silicon-on-insulator (SOI) processing and wafer-level vacuum packaging. This research aims to design a high-sensitivity SMRA because a high sensitivity allows for the acceleration signal to be easily demodulated by frequency counting techniques and decreases the noise level. This study applies the energy-consumed concept and the Nelder-Mead algorithm in the SMRA to address the design issues and further increase its sensitivity. Using this novel method, the sensitivity of the SMRA has been increased by 66.1%, which attributes to both the re-designed DETF and the reduced energy loss on the micro-lever. The results of both the closed-form and finite-element analyses are described and are in agreement with one another. A resonant frequency of approximately 22 kHz, a frequency sensitivity of over 250 Hz per g, a one-hour bias stability of 55 μg, a bias repeatability (1σ) of 48 μg and the bias-instability of 4.8 μg have been achieved.
PMCID: PMC4704730  PMID: 26633425
resonant accelerometer; SOI; micro-lever mechanism; sensitivity; MEMS
2.  Using a Novel Wireless-Networked Decentralized Control Scheme under Unpredictable Environmental Conditions 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):28690-28716.
The direction of sunshine or the installation sites of environmental control facilities in the greenhouse result in different temperature and humidity levels in the various zones of the greenhouse, and thus, the production quality of crop is inconsistent. This study proposed a wireless-networked decentralized fuzzy control scheme to regulate the environmental parameters of various culture zones within a greenhouse. The proposed scheme can create different environmental conditions for cultivating different crops in various zones and achieve diversification or standardization of crop production. A star-type wireless sensor network is utilized to communicate with each sensing node, actuator node, and control node in various zones within the greenhouse. The fuzzy rule-based inference system is used to regulate the environmental parameters for temperature and humidity based on real-time data of plant growth response provided by a growth stage selector. The growth stage selector defines the control ranges of temperature and humidity of the various culture zones according to the leaf area of the plant, the number of leaves, and the cumulative amount of light. The experimental results show that the proposed scheme is stable and robust and provides basis for future greenhouse applications.
PMCID: PMC4695961  PMID: 26569264
fuzzy logic inference; graphic user interface; wireless sensor network; environment control
3.  Automated Identification of River Hydromorphological Features Using UAV High Resolution Aerial Imagery 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27969-27989.
European legislation is driving the development of methods for river ecosystem protection in light of concerns over water quality and ecology. Key to their success is the accurate and rapid characterisation of physical features (i.e., hydromorphology) along the river. Image pattern recognition techniques have been successfully used for this purpose. The reliability of the methodology depends on both the quality of the aerial imagery and the pattern recognition technique used. Recent studies have proved the potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to increase the quality of the imagery by capturing high resolution photography. Similarly, Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) have been shown to be a high precision tool for automated recognition of environmental patterns. This paper presents a UAV based framework for the identification of hydromorphological features from high resolution RGB aerial imagery using a novel classification technique based on ANNs. The framework is developed for a 1.4 km river reach along the river Dee in Wales, United Kingdom. For this purpose, a Falcon 8 octocopter was used to gather 2.5 cm resolution imagery. The results show that the accuracy of the framework is above 81%, performing particularly well at recognising vegetation. These results leverage the use of UAVs for environmental policy implementation and demonstrate the potential of ANNs and RGB imagery for high precision river monitoring and river management.
PMCID: PMC4701264  PMID: 26556355
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; photogrammetry; Artificial Neural Network; feature recognition; hydromorphology
4.  Vision Sensor-Based Road Detection for Field Robot Navigation 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):29594-29617.
Road detection is an essential component of field robot navigation systems. Vision sensors play an important role in road detection for their great potential in environmental perception. In this paper, we propose a hierarchical vision sensor-based method for robust road detection in challenging road scenes. More specifically, for a given road image captured by an on-board vision sensor, we introduce a multiple population genetic algorithm (MPGA)-based approach for efficient road vanishing point detection. Superpixel-level seeds are then selected in an unsupervised way using a clustering strategy. Then, according to the GrowCut framework, the seeds proliferate and iteratively try to occupy their neighbors. After convergence, the initial road segment is obtained. Finally, in order to achieve a globally-consistent road segment, the initial road segment is refined using the conditional random field (CRF) framework, which integrates high-level information into road detection. We perform several experiments to evaluate the common performance, scale sensitivity and noise sensitivity of the proposed method. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method exhibits high robustness compared to the state of the art.
PMCID: PMC4701237  PMID: 26610514
robot navigation; road detection; MPGA; GrowCut; conditional random field
5.  Membrane Potential and Calcium Dynamics in Beta Cells from Mouse Pancreas Tissue Slices: Theory, Experimentation, and Analysis 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27393-27419.
Beta cells in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans are precise biological sensors for glucose and play a central role in balancing the organism between catabolic and anabolic needs. A hallmark of the beta cell response to glucose are oscillatory changes of membrane potential that are tightly coupled with oscillatory changes in intracellular calcium concentration which, in turn, elicit oscillations of insulin secretion. Both membrane potential and calcium changes spread from one beta cell to the other in a wave-like manner. In order to assess the properties of the abovementioned responses to physiological and pathological stimuli, the main challenge remains how to effectively measure membrane potential and calcium changes at the same time with high spatial and temporal resolution, and also in as many cells as possible. To date, the most wide-spread approach has employed the electrophysiological patch-clamp method to monitor membrane potential changes. Inherently, this technique has many advantages, such as a direct contact with the cell and a high temporal resolution. However, it allows one to assess information from a single cell only. In some instances, this technique has been used in conjunction with CCD camera-based imaging, offering the opportunity to simultaneously monitor membrane potential and calcium changes, but not in the same cells and not with a reliable cellular or subcellular spatial resolution. Recently, a novel family of highly-sensitive membrane potential reporter dyes in combination with high temporal and spatial confocal calcium imaging allows for simultaneously detecting membrane potential and calcium changes in many cells at a time. Since the signals yielded from both types of reporter dyes are inherently noisy, we have developed complex methods of data denoising that permit for visualization and pixel-wise analysis of signals. Combining the experimental approach of high-resolution imaging with the advanced analysis of noisy data enables novel physiological insights and reassessment of current concepts in unprecedented detail.
PMCID: PMC4701238  PMID: 26516866
calcium sensors; membrane potential sensors; calcium imaging; membrane potential imaging; beta cell; pancreas; denoising; patch-clamp
6.  Design and Fabrication of a Real-Time Measurement System for the Capsaicinoid Content of Korean Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Powder by Visible and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27420-27435.
This research aims to design and fabricate a system to measure the capsaicinoid content of red pepper powder in a non-destructive and rapid method using visible and near infrared spectroscopy (VNIR). The developed system scans a well-leveled powder surface continuously to minimize the influence of the placenta distribution, thus acquiring stable and representative reflectance spectra. The system incorporates flat belts driven by a sample input hopper and stepping motor, a powder surface leveler, charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor-embedded VNIR spectrometer, fiber optic probe, and tungsten halogen lamp, and an automated reference measuring unit with a reference panel to measure the standard spectrum. The operation program includes device interface, standard reflectivity measurement, and a graphical user interface to measure the capsaicinoid content. A partial least square regression (PLSR) model was developed to predict the capsaicinoid content; 44 red pepper powder samples whose measured capsaicinoid content ranged 13.45–159.48 mg/100 g by per high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and 1242 VNIR absorbance spectra acquired by the pungency measurement system were used. The determination coefficient of validation (RV2) and standard error of prediction (SEP) for the model with the first-order derivative pretreatment method for Korean red pepper powder were 0.8484 and ±13.6388 mg/100 g, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4701239  PMID: 26528973
visible and near-infrared; spectroscopy; capsaicinoid content; red pepper powder; partial least square regression
7.  SITRUS: Semantic Infrastructure for Wireless Sensor Networks 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27436-27469.
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are made up of nodes with limited resources, such as processing, bandwidth, memory and, most importantly, energy. For this reason, it is essential that WSNs always work to reduce the power consumption as much as possible in order to maximize its lifetime. In this context, this paper presents SITRUS (semantic infrastructure for wireless sensor networks), which aims to reduce the power consumption of WSN nodes using ontologies. SITRUS consists of two major parts: a message-oriented middleware responsible for both an oriented message communication service and a reconfiguration service; and a semantic information processing module whose purpose is to generate a semantic database that provides the basis to decide whether a WSN node needs to be reconfigurated or not. In order to evaluate the proposed solution, we carried out an experimental evaluation to assess the power consumption and memory usage of WSN applications built atop SITRUS.
PMCID: PMC4701240  PMID: 26528974
semantic infrastructure; wireless sensor networks; ontology and semantic web; power consumption; software reconfiguration
8.  Advanced Interrogation of Fiber-Optic Bragg Grating and Fabry-Perot Sensors with KLT Analysis 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27470-27492.
The Karhunen-Loeve Transform (KLT) is applied to accurate detection of optical fiber sensors in the spectral domain. By processing an optical spectrum, although coarsely sampled, through the KLT, and subsequently processing the obtained eigenvalues, it is possible to decode a plurality of optical sensor results. The KLT returns higher accuracy than other demodulation techniques, despite coarse sampling, and exhibits higher resilience to noise. Three case studies of KLT-based processing are presented, representing most of the current challenges in optical fiber sensing: (1) demodulation of individual sensors, such as Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) and Fabry-Perot Interferometers (FPIs); (2) demodulation of dual (FBG/FPI) sensors; (3) application of reverse KLT to isolate different sensors operating on the same spectrum. A simulative outline is provided to demonstrate the KLT operation and estimate performance; a brief experimental section is also provided to validate accurate FBG and FPI decoding.
PMCID: PMC4701241  PMID: 26528975
optical fiber sensors (OFS); fiber Bragg grating (FBG); Fabry-Perot interferometry (FPI); optical signal processing; Karhunen-Loeve Transform (KLT); optical sensor demodulation
9.  Development and Evaluation of a UAV-Photogrammetry System for Precise 3D Environmental Modeling 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27493-27524.
The specific requirements of UAV-photogrammetry necessitate particular solutions for system development, which have mostly been ignored or not assessed adequately in recent studies. Accordingly, this paper presents the methodological and experimental aspects of correctly implementing a UAV-photogrammetry system. The hardware of the system consists of an electric-powered helicopter, a high-resolution digital camera and an inertial navigation system. The software of the system includes the in-house programs specifically designed for camera calibration, platform calibration, system integration, on-board data acquisition, flight planning and on-the-job self-calibration. The detailed features of the system are discussed, and solutions are proposed in order to enhance the system and its photogrammetric outputs. The developed system is extensively tested for precise modeling of the challenging environment of an open-pit gravel mine. The accuracy of the results is evaluated under various mapping conditions, including direct georeferencing and indirect georeferencing with different numbers, distributions and types of ground control points. Additionally, the effects of imaging configuration and network stability on modeling accuracy are assessed. The experiments demonstrated that 1.55 m horizontal and 3.16 m vertical absolute modeling accuracy could be achieved via direct geo-referencing, which was improved to 0.4 cm and 1.7 cm after indirect geo-referencing.
PMCID: PMC4701242  PMID: 26528976
UAV; modeling; photogrammetry; calibration; georeferencing; ground control point; mine
10.  Smart Building: Decision Making Architecture for Thermal Energy Management 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27543-27568.
Smart applications of the Internet of Things are improving the performance of buildings, reducing energy demand. Local and smart networks, soft computing methodologies, machine intelligence algorithms and pervasive sensors are some of the basics of energy optimization strategies developed for the benefit of environmental sustainability and user comfort. This work presents a distributed sensor-processor-communication decision-making architecture to improve the acquisition, storage and transfer of thermal energy in buildings. The developed system is implemented in a near Zero-Energy Building (nZEB) prototype equipped with a built-in thermal solar collector, where optical properties are analysed; a low enthalpy geothermal accumulation system, segmented in different temperature zones; and an envelope that includes a dynamic thermal barrier. An intelligent control of this dynamic thermal barrier is applied to reduce the thermal energy demand (heating and cooling) caused by daily and seasonal weather variations. Simulations and experimental results are presented to highlight the nZEB thermal energy reduction.
PMCID: PMC4701244  PMID: 26528978
decision-making architecture; distributed sensor network; dynamic thermal barrier; thermal energy; smart building; nZEB
11.  Calibration of Kinect for Xbox One and Comparison between the Two Generations of Microsoft Sensors 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27569-27589.
In recent years, the videogame industry has been characterized by a great boost in gesture recognition and motion tracking, following the increasing request of creating immersive game experiences. The Microsoft Kinect sensor allows acquiring RGB, IR and depth images with a high frame rate. Because of the complementary nature of the information provided, it has proved an attractive resource for researchers with very different backgrounds. In summer 2014, Microsoft launched a new generation of Kinect on the market, based on time-of-flight technology. This paper proposes a calibration of Kinect for Xbox One imaging sensors, focusing on the depth camera. The mathematical model that describes the error committed by the sensor as a function of the distance between the sensor itself and the object has been estimated. All the analyses presented here have been conducted for both generations of Kinect, in order to quantify the improvements that characterize every single imaging sensor. Experimental results show that the quality of the delivered model improved applying the proposed calibration procedure, which is applicable to both point clouds and the mesh model created with the Microsoft Fusion Libraries.
PMCID: PMC4701245  PMID: 26528979
Kinect; calibration; depth maps; distortion removal; RGB-D; fusion libraries
12.  Dynamic Performance Comparison of Two Kalman Filters for Rate Signal Direct Modeling and Differencing Modeling for Combining a MEMS Gyroscope Array to Improve Accuracy 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27590-27610.
In this paper, the performance of two Kalman filter (KF) schemes based on the direct estimated model and differencing estimated model for input rate signal was thoroughly analyzed and compared for combining measurements of a sensor array to improve the accuracy of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) gyroscopes. The principles for noise reduction were presented and KF algorithms were designed to obtain the optimal rate signal estimates. The input rate signal in the direct estimated KF model was modeled with a random walk process and treated as the estimated system state. In the differencing estimated KF model, a differencing operation was established between outputs of the gyroscope array, and then the optimal estimation of input rate signal was achieved by compensating for the estimations of bias drifts for the component gyroscopes. Finally, dynamic simulations and experiments with a six-gyroscope array were implemented to compare the dynamic performance of the two KF models. The 1σ error of the gyroscopes was reduced from 1.4558°/s to 0.1203°/s by the direct estimated KF model in a constant rate test and to 0.5974°/s by the differencing estimated KF model. The estimated rate signal filtered by both models could reflect the amplitude variation of the input signal in the swing rate test and displayed a reduction factor of about three for the 1σ noise. Results illustrate that the performance of the direct estimated KF model is much higher than that of the differencing estimated KF model, with a constant input signal or lower dynamic variation. A similarity in the two KFs’ performance is observed if the input signal has a high dynamic variation.
PMCID: PMC4701246  PMID: 26528980
MEMS gyroscope; Kalman filtering; sensor array; direct model; differencing model; performance comparison; optimal estimation
13.  Sparse Auto-Calibration for Radar Coincidence Imaging with Gain-Phase Errors 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27611-27624.
Radar coincidence imaging (RCI) is a high-resolution staring imaging technique without the limitation of relative motion between target and radar. The sparsity-driven approaches are commonly used in RCI, while the prior knowledge of imaging models needs to be known accurately. However, as one of the major model errors, the gain-phase error exists generally, and may cause inaccuracies of the model and defocus the image. In the present report, the sparse auto-calibration method is proposed to compensate the gain-phase error in RCI. The method can determine the gain-phase error as part of the imaging process. It uses an iterative algorithm, which cycles through steps of target reconstruction and gain-phase error estimation, where orthogonal matching pursuit (OMP) and Newton’s method are used, respectively. Simulation results show that the proposed method can improve the imaging quality significantly and estimate the gain-phase error accurately.
PMCID: PMC4701247  PMID: 26528981
radar coincidence imaging (RCI); sparse recovery; orthogonal matching pursuit (OMP); gain-phase error; auto-calibration
14.  A Model-Based Approach to Support Validation of Medical Cyber-Physical Systems 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27625-27670.
Medical Cyber-Physical Systems (MCPS) are context-aware, life-critical systems with patient safety as the main concern, demanding rigorous processes for validation to guarantee user requirement compliance and specification-oriented correctness. In this article, we propose a model-based approach for early validation of MCPS, focusing on promoting reusability and productivity. It enables system developers to build MCPS formal models based on a library of patient and medical device models, and simulate the MCPS to identify undesirable behaviors at design time. Our approach has been applied to three different clinical scenarios to evaluate its reusability potential for different contexts. We have also validated our approach through an empirical evaluation with developers to assess productivity and reusability. Finally, our models have been formally verified considering functional and safety requirements and model coverage.
PMCID: PMC4701248  PMID: 26528982
medical cyber-physical systems; early validation; simulation; formal methods; model-based development; clinical scenarios; medical devices; patient model
15.  Time-Efficient High-Rate Data Flooding in One-Dimensional Acoustic Underwater Sensor Networks 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27671-27691.
Because underwater communication environments have poor characteristics, such as severe attenuation, large propagation delays and narrow bandwidths, data is normally transmitted at low rates through acoustic waves. On the other hand, as high traffic has recently been required in diverse areas, high rate transmission has become necessary. In this paper, transmission/reception timing schemes that maximize the time axis use efficiency to improve the resource efficiency for high rate transmission are proposed. The excellence of the proposed scheme is identified by examining the power distributions by node, rate bounds, power levels depending on the rates and number of nodes, and network split gains through mathematical analysis and numerical results. In addition, the simulation results show that the proposed scheme outperforms the existing packet train method.
PMCID: PMC4701249  PMID: 26528983
underwater sensor network; time efficiency; one-dimensional deployment; power consumption
16.  A Mixed Approach to Similarity Metric Selection in Affinity Propagation-Based WiFi Fingerprinting Indoor Positioning 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27692-27720.
The weighted k-nearest neighbors (WkNN) algorithm is by far the most popular choice in the design of fingerprinting indoor positioning systems based on WiFi received signal strength (RSS). WkNN estimates the position of a target device by selecting k reference points (RPs) based on the similarity of their fingerprints with the measured RSS values. The position of the target device is then obtained as a weighted sum of the positions of the k RPs. Two-step WkNN positioning algorithms were recently proposed, in which RPs are divided into clusters using the affinity propagation clustering algorithm, and one representative for each cluster is selected. Only cluster representatives are then considered during the position estimation, leading to a significant computational complexity reduction compared to traditional, flat WkNN. Flat and two-step WkNN share the issue of properly selecting the similarity metric so as to guarantee good positioning accuracy: in two-step WkNN, in particular, the metric impacts three different steps in the position estimation, that is cluster formation, cluster selection and RP selection and weighting. So far, however, the only similarity metric considered in the literature was the one proposed in the original formulation of the affinity propagation algorithm. This paper fills this gap by comparing different metrics and, based on this comparison, proposes a novel mixed approach in which different metrics are adopted in the different steps of the position estimation procedure. The analysis is supported by an extensive experimental campaign carried out in a multi-floor 3D indoor positioning testbed. The impact of similarity metrics and their combinations on the structure and size of the resulting clusters, 3D positioning accuracy and computational complexity are investigated. Results show that the adoption of metrics different from the one proposed in the original affinity propagation algorithm and, in particular, the combination of different metrics can significantly improve the positioning accuracy while preserving the efficiency in computational complexity typical of two-step algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4701250  PMID: 26528984
WiFi fingerprinting indoor positioning; similarity metrics; WkNN; affinity propagation
17.  A Neural Network-Based Gait Phase Classification Method Using Sensors Equipped on Lower Limb Exoskeleton Robots 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27738-27759.
An exact classification of different gait phases is essential to enable the control of exoskeleton robots and detect the intentions of users. We propose a gait phase classification method based on neural networks using sensor signals from lower limb exoskeleton robots. In such robots, foot sensors with force sensing registers are commonly used to classify gait phases. We describe classifiers that use the orientation of each lower limb segment and the angular velocities of the joints to output the current gait phase. Experiments to obtain the input signals and desired outputs for the learning and validation process are conducted, and two neural network methods (a multilayer perceptron and nonlinear autoregressive with external inputs (NARX)) are used to develop an optimal classifier. Offline and online evaluations using four criteria are used to compare the performance of the classifiers. The proposed NARX-based method exhibits sufficiently good performance to replace foot sensors as a means of classifying gait phases.
PMCID: PMC4701252  PMID: 26528986
exoskeleton robots; gait phase classification; neural network; MLP; NARX
18.  A Novel Wireless Power Transfer-Based Weighed Clustering Cooperative Spectrum Sensing Method for Cognitive Sensor Networks 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27760-27782.
In a cognitive sensor network (CSN), the wastage of sensing time and energy is a challenge to cooperative spectrum sensing, when the number of cooperative cognitive nodes (CNs) becomes very large. In this paper, a novel wireless power transfer (WPT)-based weighed clustering cooperative spectrum sensing model is proposed, which divides all the CNs into several clusters, and then selects the most favorable CNs as the cluster heads and allows the common CNs to transfer the received radio frequency (RF) energy of the primary node (PN) to the cluster heads, in order to supply the electrical energy needed for sensing and cooperation. A joint resource optimization is formulated to maximize the spectrum access probability of the CSN, through jointly allocating sensing time and clustering number. According to the resource optimization results, a clustering algorithm is proposed. The simulation results have shown that compared to the traditional model, the cluster heads of the proposed model can achieve more transmission power and there exists optimal sensing time and clustering number to maximize the spectrum access probability.
PMCID: PMC4701253  PMID: 26528987
cognitive sensor network; cooperative spectrum sensing; wireless power transfer; spectrum access; resource optimization
19.  Multi-UAV Routing for Area Coverage and Remote Sensing with Minimum Time 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27783-27803.
This paper presents a solution for the problem of minimum time coverage of ground areas using a group of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) equipped with image sensors. The solution is divided into two parts: (i) the task modeling as a graph whose vertices are geographic coordinates determined in such a way that a single UAV would cover the area in minimum time; and (ii) the solution of a mixed integer linear programming problem, formulated according to the graph variables defined in the first part, to route the team of UAVs over the area. The main contribution of the proposed methodology, when compared with the traditional vehicle routing problem’s (VRP) solutions, is the fact that our method solves some practical problems only encountered during the execution of the task with actual UAVs. In this line, one of the main contributions of the paper is that the number of UAVs used to cover the area is automatically selected by solving the optimization problem. The number of UAVs is influenced by the vehicles’ maximum flight time and by the setup time, which is the time needed to prepare and launch a UAV. To illustrate the methodology, the paper presents experimental results obtained with two hand-launched, fixed-wing UAVs.
PMCID: PMC4701254  PMID: 26540055
coverage path planning; UAVs; vehicle routing problem
20.  Active-Optical Sensors Using Red NDVI Compared to Red Edge NDVI for Prediction of Corn Grain Yield in North Dakota, U.S.A. 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27832-27853.
Active-optical sensor readings from an N non-limiting area standard established within a farm field are used to predict yield in the standard. Lower yield predictions from sensor readings obtained from other parts of the field outside of the N non-limiting standard area indicate a need for supplemental N. Active-optical sensor algorithms for predicting corn (Zea mays, L.) yield to direct in-season nitrogen (N) fertilization in corn utilize red NDVI (normalized differential vegetative index). Use of red edge NDVI might improve corn yield prediction at later growth stages when corn leaves cover the inter-row space resulting in “saturation” of red NDVI readings. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of red edge NDVI in two active-optical sensors (GreenSeeker™ and Holland Scientific Crop Circle™) improved corn yield prediction. Nitrogen rate experiments were established at 15 sites in North Dakota (ND). Sensor readings were conducted at V6 and V12 corn. Red NDVI and red edge NDVI were similar in the relationship of readings with yield at V6. At V12, the red edge NDVI was superior to the red NDVI in most comparisons, indicating that it would be most useful in developing late-season N application algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4701256  PMID: 26540057
corn; ground-based active-optical sensors; nitrogen; soil
21.  Determination of the Mineral Composition and Toxic Element Contents of Propolis by Near Infrared Spectroscopy 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27854-27868.
The potential of near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) with remote reflectance fiber-optic probes for determining the mineral composition of propolis was evaluated. This technology allows direct measurements without prior sample treatment. Ninety one samples of propolis were collected in Chile (Bio-Bio region) and Spain (Castilla-León and Galicia regions). The minerals measured were aluminum, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and some potentially toxic trace elements such as zinc, chromium, nickel, copper and lead. The modified partial least squares (MPLS) regression method was used to develop the NIR calibration model. The determination coefficient (R2) and root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) obtained for aluminum (0.79, 53), calcium (0.83, 94), iron (0.69, 134) potassium (0.95, 117), magnesium (0.70, 99), phosphorus (0.94, 24) zinc (0.87, 10) chromium (0.48, 0.6) nickel (0.52, 0.7) copper (0.64, 0.9) and lead (0.70, 2) in ppm. The results demonstrated that the capacity for prediction can be considered good for wide ranges of potassium, phosphorus and zinc concentrations, and acceptable for aluminum, calcium, magnesium, iron and lead. This indicated that the NIR method is comparable to chemical methods. The method is of interest in the rapid prediction of potentially toxic elements in propolis before consumption.
PMCID: PMC4701257  PMID: 26540058
propolis; mineral composition; lead; near-infrared spectroscopy; determination; cross-validation
22.  A Spiking Neural Network in sEMG Feature Extraction 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27894-27904.
We have developed a novel algorithm for sEMG feature extraction and classification. It is based on a hybrid network composed of spiking and artificial neurons. The spiking neuron layer with mutual inhibition was assigned as feature extractor. We demonstrate that the classification accuracy of the proposed model could reach high values comparable with existing sEMG interface systems. Moreover, the algorithm sensibility for different sEMG collecting systems characteristics was estimated. Results showed rather equal accuracy, despite a significant sampling rate difference. The proposed algorithm was successfully tested for mobile robot control.
PMCID: PMC4701259  PMID: 26540060
sEMG; feature extraction; pattern classification; artificial neural network; neurointerface; exoskeleton
23.  High Resolution Viscosity Measurement by Thermal Noise Detection 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27905-27916.
An interferometric method is implemented in order to accurately assess the thermal fluctuations of a micro-cantilever sensor in liquid environments. The power spectrum density (PSD) of thermal fluctuations together with Sader’s model of the cantilever allow for the indirect measurement of the liquid viscosity with good accuracy. The good quality of the deflection signal and the characteristic low noise of the instrument allow for the detection and corrections of drawbacks due to both the cantilever shape irregularities and the uncertainties on the position of the laser spot at the fluctuating end of the cantilever. Variation of viscosity below 0.03 mPa·s was detected with the alternative to achieve measurements with a volume as low as 50 μL.
PMCID: PMC4701260  PMID: 26540061
thermal fluctuations; viscosity in liquids; MEMS
24.  Surface Plasmon Resonance Sensor Based on Ethylene Tetra-Fluoro-Ethylene Hollow Fiber 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27917-27929.
A new kind of hollow fiber surface plasmon resonance sensor (HF-SPRS) based on the silver-coated ethylene tetra-fluoro-ethylene (ETFE) hollow fiber (HF) is presented. The ETFE HF-SPRS is fabricated, and its performance is investigated experimentally by measuring the transmission spectra of the sensor when filled by liquid sensed media with different refractive indices (RIs). Theoretical analysis based on the ray transmission model is also taken to evaluate the sensor. Because the RI of ETFE is much lower than that of fused silica (FSG), the ETFE HF-SPRS can extend the lower limit of the detection range of the early reported FSG HF-SPRS from 1.5 to 1.42 approximately. This could greatly enhance the application potential of HF-SPRS. Moreover, the joint use of both ETFE and FSG HF-SPRSs can cover a wide detection range from 1.42 to 1.69 approximately with high sensitivities larger than 1000 nm/RIU.
PMCID: PMC4701261  PMID: 26540062
surface plasmon resonance; hollow fiber; sensor; ethylene tetra-fluoro-ethylene
25.  A New Analytic Alignment Method for a SINS 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(11):27930-27953.
Analytic alignment is a type of self-alignment for a Strapdown inertial navigation system (SINS) that is based solely on two non-collinear vectors, which are the gravity and rotational velocity vectors of the Earth at a stationary base on the ground. The attitude of the SINS with respect to the Earth can be obtained directly using the TRIAD algorithm given two vector measurements. For a traditional analytic coarse alignment, all six outputs from the inertial measurement unit (IMU) are used to compute the attitude. In this study, a novel analytic alignment method called selective alignment is presented. This method uses only three outputs of the IMU and a few properties from the remaining outputs such as the sign and the approximate value to calculate the attitude. Simulations and experimental results demonstrate the validity of this method, and the precision of yaw is improved using the selective alignment method compared to the traditional analytic coarse alignment method in the vehicle experiment. The selective alignment principle provides an accurate relationship between the outputs and the attitude of the SINS relative to the Earth for a stationary base, and it is an extension of the TRIAD algorithm. The selective alignment approach has potential uses in applications such as self-alignment, fault detection, and self-calibration.
PMCID: PMC4701262  PMID: 26556353
SINS; self-alignment; initial alignment; analytic alignment; TRIAD

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