Drives and Controls Magazine

Name this novel encoder shape and win an iPod

17 June, 2010

The UK inductive sensing specialist Zettlex has developed a novel ring-shaped angle encoder but cannot think of a suitable name to describe its shape, so it is offering a prize of an Apple iPod Touch for the best suggestion.

Zettlex’s InCoder device allows items such as drive shafts, cables and bearings to pass through its hollow core. It is aimed at applications such as rotary joints, gimbals, test equipment, weapon mounts, robots and camera systems, where precision measurement is needed in harsh environments.

According to the company’s general manager, Mark Howard, a technically correct description for the encoder’s shape might be “annular with small radial and axial thicknesses,” but he points out that this is "not exactly a snappy description”. One simpler suggestion, annular encoder, “just sounds wrong in all sorts of ways,” says Howard.

Another suggestion is to name the shape after the ring-shaped Polo peppermint sweets, but this does not translate easily into other languages such as French or German. A further option is call the encoders “through-shaft’ but, according to Howard, “this may confuse engineers who might think of traditional, small through-shaft encoders rather than the 3–12 inch (7.6–30cm) units that we offer.” The best suggestion so far, he adds, is “flat with a big hole’.

If you have a better, snappier description for the encoder’s shape, email it to before 2nd August, 2010, marking your entry “IncOder shape”. The best suggestion will win the iPod Touch.

Zettlex produces its sensors using as “unique” printing technology that enables it to manufacture sensors with no contacts, bearings, or delicate parts, and no need for maintenance. The company sells directly to OEMs and system integrators in a wide range of industries. Applications include position measurement, servo and motor controls, and user interfaces. About half of its business is for safety-related or safety-critical applications.