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Portsmouth's Yost Engineering sensor offers solutions to movement and orientation challenges

Housed in an historic Portsmouth shoe factory dating back to 1890, Yost Engineering is doing cutting-edge work on sensors to provide a solution to movement and orientation challenges.
The company’s new YEI 3-Space Sensor took three years to complete. “It’s an inertial sensor,” explains Francesca Hartop, ceo. “This means it can be attached to a person or object to provide precise information on that person’s or object’s motion and acceleration, as well as any impact experienced.”

Hartop notes that, while some highly accurate sensors exist, they’re very expensive. And, she points out, affordable versions are not very accurate.  “We wanted to combine high accuracy with low cost to provide the benefits of inertial sensors to a broader range of products and industries. Usually, you have to balance cost versus quality. With our YEI 3-Space Sensor, however, there’s no longer that trade off.”

The sensor has several applications. “Because it measures the motion and acceleration of objects, it’s used to control the navigation of autonomous vehicles, robots or marine vehicles,” she explains. The device is also used in sports analysis to study how the movement of an athlete or equipment affects performance.

Yost is also working with partners in physical medicine and rehabilitation and related patient support services that would like to use the sensors for applications such as tremor analysis in Parkinson’s patients and monitoring joint angles in recovering knee-replacement patients.
In addition, the YEI 3-Space Sensor is currently being tested by the Department of Defense (DOD) in several situations in which navigation needs can’t be feasibly or consistently accomplished by GPS, Hartop explains. “This includes tracking people and objects, as well as aiding in automated mapping, a technique in which a person or robot quickly runs through an area and the sensor data provides a full map without anyone having to draw or measure it out.” It’s anticipated that the DOD testing will be completed this year.
The company, which has received Third Frontier funding, has 28 staff members.

Source:  Francesca Hartop, Yost Engineering
Writer:  Lynne Meyer
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