An Overview of IoT Sensors for Commercial Applications

In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of various types of IoT sensors, uncovering their capabilities and the multitude of applications they enable.

Published on June 13, 2024

An Overview of IoT Sensors for Commercial Applications

The world of IoT sensors is made of millions of tiny devices that make a massive impact on how we interact with technology. In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of various types of IoT sensors, uncovering their capabilities and the multitude of applications they enable. From smart homes that adjust to our preferences to industries that run more efficiently, IoT sensors are the backbone of many modern innovations. We’ll explore how these devices collect data, communicate information, and enhance both personal and professional environments, paving the way for a smarter, more connected world.

What Are IoT Sensors?

IoT sensors are devices that detect and measure physical or environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, pressure, motion, light, and more. They convert these real-world parameters into digital data that can be processed and transmitted over the internet. Sensors are the foundation of any Internet of Things system, enabling the collection of data from the physical world.

Basic Components of IoT Sensors

The main components of an IoT sensor typically include the sensor itself, the microcontroller or microprocessor, the communication module, the power supply, and optional user interfaces. 


The sensor itself is the most crucial component of an IoT device. It directly interacts with the surroundings by detecting phenomena such as temperature, light, pressure, or motion. 

Depending on the application, a sensor can be as simple as a basic temperature sensor or as complex as a sophisticated image sensor in cameras. Each sensor type is tailored to capture specific data from its environment, converting physical parameters into measurable electrical signals. The sensor component is responsible for capturing data from the environment. 

These sensors often operate under demanding conditions, especially in industrial environments that are dusty, prone to vibration, or in extremely high or low temperatures. Ezurio’s IoT devices are largely made available in industrial variants, designed to resist damage and operate reliably in these difficult environments. 

Microcontroller or Microprocessor

Microprocessors or microcontrollers act as the "brain" of an IoT sensor device. They process the data collected by sensors based on pre-programmed instructions. This component is responsible for reading the sensor output, performing necessary calculations, and making decisions about sending the data to other devices or systems. 

The complexity of the microprocessor varies depending on the IoT application; some require basic processing capabilities, while others need advanced computational power to perform complex algorithms and data analysis.

Communication Module

Communication is the “I” in “IoT,” how digital sensor data reaches the internet. A sensor needs a way to transmit the collected data over a network, and communication modules are what allow IoT sensors to do just that. These can include traditional Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, or even more advanced cellular networks like 5G. 

The choice of communication technology depends on several factors including range, power consumption, bandwidth, and the specific requirements of the IoT application. Effective communication technologies ensure that data transmitted by the sensors is relayed promptly.

In Ezurio’s IoT devices, we leverage not only our decades of wireless experience but also current trends and best practices for reliable, lightweight handling of data. We combine our years of partnership alongside chipset manufacturers with technologies like LwM2M, a protocol designed low-power packetizing of sensor data. The result is highly reliable data handling that is ideally suited for IoT applications that require low power consumption or remote installation. 

Power Supply

Any electronic device needs a reliable power supply to function. Many IoT sensors are designed to operate off of battery power, communicating infrequently and sipping power only occasionally, which allows them to operate without a battery change for months or years. More computation-intensive devices may require more power. In either case, power supply is a critical component of an IoT sensor. 

The best, most effective IoT implementations reduce the need for maintenance and simplify day-to-day operations, and effective power management is a significant part of these solutions. Some of our latest Wi-Fi offerings in our Sona series feature the latest and greatest in the Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. While they’re known for boosting throughput, they also create previously impossible reductions in power consumption. New sleep schemes allow devices to power off for long periods of time in between transmission, only waking during negotiated intervals to communicate with the network. More and more devices can enjoy significant power savings thanks to emerging standards like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E.

Together, the above components form the backbone of any IoT sensor system, enabling not only the collection and processing of data but also its integration and utilization across various platforms and technologies. This integration is key to realizing the full potential of IoT applications, making everyday processes more efficient, responsive, and intelligent.

Types of IoT Sensors & Their Applications

From temperature sensors that enable efficient HVAC systems to motion detectors that enhance security solutions, IoT sensors play pivotal roles across various industries. We'll explore the most common types of sensors, their unique functionalities, and real-world applications that demonstrate how these devices are integral to optimizing operations, enhancing safety, and pushing the boundaries of innovation in the digital age. 

Sensors frequently leverage multiple types of data into their sensing capabilities. For example, our Bluetooth LE-based Sentrius BT6x0 I/O Sensor offers our cable attachments to measure temperature, AC current, ultrasonic readings, and pressure sensors.  Our Sentrius BT510 Sensor uses Bluetooth LE to send temperature, proximity, accelerometer, and door open/close data, all in a single IP67-rated unit. 

Standalone single-type sensors on the other hand can simplify your IoT investment for applications that don’t require multiple data points. Our new Sentrius RS2xx sensor (currently in development) delivers HACCP-level temperature sensing with either an internal temperature sensor or an external probe, all over LoRaWAN. 

Choosing the right sensor is about determining what is needed for your application – and what isn’t. As we’ll detail below, some applications benefit from a combination of data types, such as the combination of temperature and humidity, or the combination of pressure and vibration, to make meaningful inferences. Others may only require a simple data point, allowing you to select more specialized hardware. 

Temperature Sensors

In commercial and B2B applications, IoT-enabled temperature sensors are crucial for ensuring precise temperature control and operational efficiency. In agricultural sectors, particularly in greenhouse operations, these sensors help to create and maintain the optimal climatic conditions necessary for maximizing plant growth and yield. 

By continuously monitoring the ambient temperature and integrating with automated systems, these sensors can adjust heating, cooling, or ventilation systems in real time to respond to changes in weather conditions or internal greenhouse activities.

Similarly, in the realm of industrial manufacturing, temperature sensors are vital for monitoring the conditions of machinery and processes to prevent overheating and to ensure the machinery operates within specified parameters. 

This is particularly important in industries such as chemical manufacturing, where precise temperature control can affect the quality of products and the safety of the operations. IoT technology enhances the reliability of these sensors by enabling remote monitoring and data analytics. This connectivity not only helps in maintaining the efficiency of the equipment but also in predictive maintenance—identifying potential issues before they lead to equipment failure, thereby reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

In refrigeration and cold chain logistics, temperature sensors ensure that perishable goods such as food, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive products are stored and transported within safe temperature thresholds. IoT-enabled sensors can transmit real-time data to central systems, allowing for immediate action if temperatures deviate from the required ranges, thus minimizing spoilage and loss. 

This capability is essential for maintaining regulatory compliance and high standards of product quality across the supply chain. The integration of these sensors into broader IoT systems allows businesses to optimize their operations, enhance transparency, and improve overall supply chain efficiency.

Humidity Sensors

In the context of industrial manufacturing, humidity sensors are essential for maintaining the integrity of products and processes. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, proper humidity control is critical to ensure the stability and efficacy of medications. High humidity can affect the chemical composition of drugs, leading to reduced potency or spoiled batches, which can have significant financial and regulatory implications.

 IoT-enabled humidity sensors allow for continuous monitoring and real-time adjustments to the environmental conditions, ensuring compliance with strict industry standards and enhancing product quality.

Furthermore, in the agricultural sector, humidity sensors play a vital role in both indoor and outdoor farming operations. In greenhouses, controlling humidity is as crucial as temperature management for optimizing plant growth and preventing diseases. IoT technology enables precise control over these environmental variables, allowing for automated adjustments to ventilation systems and misters based on real-time sensor data. This integration not only improves crop yield and quality but also reduces labor costs and resource waste.

Additionally, humidity sensors are critical in data centers where sensitive electronics and servers are operated. Excessive humidity can lead to condensation, which poses a risk of short circuits and corrosion of electronic components. Conversely, too low humidity may increase the risk of electrostatic discharge, damaging electronic equipment. Implementing IoT-enabled sensors in these environments helps maintain the necessary humidity levels to protect equipment and ensure operational reliability.

Overall, the deployment of IoT-enabled humidity sensors in commercial and B2B applications offers significant advantages in terms of enhanced monitoring, increased efficiency, and improved control over environmental conditions, driving better outcomes in product quality, safety, and operational costs.

Pressure Sensors

In industrial environments, pressure sensors are indispensable for monitoring systems that rely on precise pressure conditions. These sensors are widely used in oil and gas, chemical processing, and water management systems. For instance, in oil refineries, pressure sensors help to ensure that pipelines and vessels operate within safe pressure limits, preventing leaks and explosions that could have catastrophic environmental and economic impacts. IoT-enabled pressure sensors enhance these applications by providing real-time data to centralized monitoring systems, enabling quick adjustments and predictive maintenance to prevent failures before they occur.

Moreover, pressure sensors find critical applications in the healthcare industry, particularly in devices that monitor blood pressure or assist in respiratory machines. These sensors ensure that medical devices operate correctly, providing essential data that can inform clinical decisions and patient care strategies. In automotive industries, pressure sensors are used to monitor tire pressure, improving vehicle efficiency and safety. The integration of IoT technology in these scenarios allows for continuous data collection and system adjustments without manual intervention, enhancing device functionality and patient safety.

Additionally, in the context of environmental monitoring, pressure sensors are employed to study underwater ecosystems or monitor groundwater levels. These sensors help researchers and environmentalists gather accurate data on environmental pressures, contributing to better management of natural resources and more informed environmental policies.

The use of IoT technology with pressure sensors in commercial and B2B applications ensures that data collected is not only accurate but also accessible in real-time. This connectivity enables more dynamic system responses and broader integration with other technologies, resulting in enhanced system reliability, cost efficiency, and operational safety across multiple industries.

Motion/Proximity Sensors

In various industries, motion and proximity sensing serve purposes ranging from simple building automation all the way up through to health and safety. Modern buildings can use data about building occupancy to automatically control lighting, HVAC systems, and more. This can create significant efficiencies for building operators. 

On the manufacturing floor, especially in the presence of moving vehicles or autonomous robots, human proximity to machinery can be a critical component for worker safety. Machines can use sensor data to determine when workers enter restricted zones near operating machinery, or use proximity sensors to stop and reroute autonomous robots around workers on the floor. Technologies like Bluetooth or Ultra-Wideband can do this rapidly and to varying degrees of precision. Ultra-Wideband in particular can detect location down to 10 centimeter accuracy with a refresh rate of as much as 1000 times per second. 

Light Sensors

Just like buildings are entering a new era of smart automation, so are our cities. Smart cities are finding new ways to sense and control infrastructure components like street lighting, using smart sensors. Rather than just rely on set schedules, smart street lights can be adaptable to other conditions, such as heavy cloud cover and other weather conditions, to determine when to activate and deactivate lights. Additionally, when triggered by something like a crime incident or a public safety event, lights can be activated remotely to assist the public or to help police find a suspect. 

In agricultural applications, light sensors can gather crucial information about how much light is being made available to growing crops. This information can help growers make important decisions about soil amendments and other adjustments to be made during the growing process. 

Gas Sensors

Determining the concentration of various gases and compounds in the air can be the difference between a failure and a disaster. In fuel refineries, a gas leak may at dangerous concentrations long before it’s detectable to human operators. In the case of flammable gases, those leaks can pose a serious risk of combustion or outright explosion. When combined with wireless communication and a facility-wide network, IoT gas sensors have the ability to trigger multiple safety events on detection, such as automatically shutting down fuel lines, activating ventilation systems, evacuating personnel, or other emergency responses. 

 Gas sensors can be crucial in applications that require pristine clean rooms, such as delicate electronics manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, virology, and more. In environments like this, extremely small concentrations of contaminants can lead to an infected or damaged product, a spoiled culture, and other failures. The ISO class system for clean rooms can be as stringent as a maximum of 10 .1μm particles per cubic meter. This makes highly responsive sensors a must for maintaining these environments and makes IoT sensors an ideal solution for rapid detection and mitigation. 

Sound Sensors

Monitoring sound has a broad variety of applications for the environment, for city management, for industrial environments, and much more. For conservation efforts, sound sensors can provide an insight into animal migration patterns that might be difficult to otherwise achieve. Animal sounds are a simple way to gather data about the presence of animals, especially near human populations. By using an array of sensors, it’s possible to triangulate the movement of animal populations, and to anticipate where they may migrate to next. 

One common aim of cities is to minimize or manage noise pollution. Noise pollution is linked to many health problems in humans, leads to sleep disturbances, and is otherwise unpleasant for people living in noisy areas. Sound sensors can help to measure and localize the amount of noise pollution in areas of a city, and to help city management identify and prioritize the most troubled and noisiest areas. It can help city engineers choose the areas to reinforce with sound-mitigating structures and to determine where and when the most significant noise pollution occurs. 

In manufacturing environments, there are many indicators that machinery has undergone damage and is likely to fail. IoT sensors can make discoveries about machinery via vibration, temperature, and pressure as well. But sound is also an indicator of wear and tear. Failing machinery may emit whining sounds, banging sounds, or other variations in its typical sound, some of which may not be immediately obvious to a human operator. By capturing a footprint of the sound machinery makes, a smart factory may be able to anticipate and intercept a machine failure, preventing costly downtime or further wear and tear. 

Future Trends and Innovations in IoT Sensors

This is a small sampling of the types of sensors in use now in today’s evolving industries, and IoT sensors are being included more and more in legacy applications to unlock new and more efficient ways of doing business. So what does the future of IoT sensors look like? There are many emerging trends in how sensors are being utilized. Some of these include: 

  • Integration of artificial intelligence. Today, the sensor data being gathered by sensors is harvested into data sets, often at the cloud level, where systems engineers can create triggers, rules, workflows, alerts, and other responses when data indicates any given scenario. Increasingly, more capable AI models are being developed to analyze large volumes of this data and to identify patterns that are difficult or impossible to find with human analysis. What this means is that the “fingerprint” of something like a failing motor may be detectable in ways humans have never identified on our own without the aid of computer analysis. Artificial intelligence is being developed to find those patterns, and possibly to identify new remedies or means of avoidance for those fail scenarios as well. 
  • Increasing miniaturization. A long-running feature of electronics development, the continued miniaturization of electronics manufacturing continues to lead to smaller and smaller devices. This also means the ability to add sensors and monitoring capabilities to more places, including inside the human body. For example, ultra-tiny sensors are in development that take the form of an ingestible pill which can record and transmit data as it moves throughout the gastrointestinal tract. This can yield insights about areas of the intestine that are blocked or digest slowly, or gather pH data to determine levels of acidity. Very small sensors have the capability to measure data in places that were previously not possible, offering diagnostic information that would have previously been obtained via surgery or more invasive scope procedures. 
  • Better connectivity, and in more places. LTE and other cellular technologies have been broadly deployed in many places throughout the world, but there still exist many places with no wide area network, or insufficient coverage to support a large number of connected devices. The ongoing rollout of 4G and 5G networks promises to resolve this issue in many places, to the benefit of IoT applications. Newer cellular networks support a much higher device density, as well as better throughput for the devices that they service. Even for IoT sensors that require very little data transmission, this increased number of connectable devices opens the door to large numbers of sensors that previously would have outstripped the capacity of cellular network.
  • More ways to save power. As previously mentioned, one standard that has offered increased power savings to its devices is the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E standard. Using Target Wake Time allows Wi-Fi 6/6E devices to only wake on a schedule, conserving significant battery life. Similarly, Bluetooth Low Energy represented a massive shift in how Bluetooth communicates and (importantly) when it is allowed to rest. In Bluetooth 5, the introduction of 2M PHY allows a Bluetooth LE device to communicate in much shorter bursts, further reducing the time the device is communicating over the air and therefore further slashing power consumption. In combination with the trend toward miniaturization, future devices will need more ways to use less power in the most constrained applications. It’s likely the trend toward power minimization and efficiency will continue to serve the demands of a new class of smaller devices. Additional technological developments like the ongoing development of non-volatile memory technologies will further assist with minimizing the power usage associated with RAM and Flash storage.
  • More computing power at the edge. To minimize computational needs at the server level, more and more devices are leveraging the increasingly affordable processing power that can be built into sensor devices themselves. By leaning on the embedded microcontroller or microprocessor on board the sensor itself, an IoT application can decrease the server load required to monitor large arrays of sensors. Devices can input and analyze sensor data and output insights or calculations, offloading the requirement to do this work at the server level. This means a distribution of computation power that lightens the load for the central network and increases overall operational efficiency. Devices such as Ezurio’s line of System-on-Modules can provide the platform for sensor devices with a full set of high-performing peripherals and multi-core processing right on the host board. 

About Ezurio

Ezurio turns design possibility into reality with a comprehensive range of RF modules, system-on-modules, single board computers, internal antennas, IoT devices, and custom solutions. With decades of engineering expertise, Ezurio provides solutions that reduce development costs and time to market. Our global reach and unmatched support are backed by a resilient global supply chain that gives our customers the stability to overcome every design challenge with confidence. Turn design possibility into reality with Ezurio, your connectivity expert. 

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