An intelligent sensor is a device that obtains input from the physical environment and uses built-in computing resources to perform predefined functions when a specific input is detected, and then processes the data before transmitting it.
Intelligent sensors can collect environmental data more accurately and automatically, and reduce error noise in accurately recorded information. These devices are used for monitoring and control mechanisms in various environments, including smart grids, battlefield reconnaissance, exploration and many scientific applications.
Intelligent sensors are also an indispensable and important element in the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things is an increasingly popular environment. In this environment, almost anything imaginable can be equipped with unique identifiers and can transmit data through the Internet or similar networks. One way to implement smart sensors is as a component of wireless sensor and actuator network (WSAN). The number of nodes can reach thousands. Each node is connected to one or more other sensors and sensor hubs and a single actuator.
Computing resources are usually provided by low-power mobile microprocessors. Intelligent sensors are at least composed of sensors, microprocessors and some communication technology. Computing resources must be an integral part of physical design - sensors that only send their data for remote processing are not considered intelligent sensors.
Intelligent sensors include three components: sensors that capture data, and microprocessors that calculate sensor output through programming and communication functions.
In addition to the main sensor, the intelligent sensor may also include several other components. These components can include sensors, amplifiers, excitation control, analog filters, and compensation. Intelligent sensors also contain software definition elements, which can provide data conversion, digital processing and communication with external devices.
What is the use of intelligent sensors?
Intelligent sensors have numerous use cases. They are very common in industrial environments and are the driving force behind Industry 4.0.
The factory often uses intelligent temperature sensors to ensure that the machine will not overheat, and uses vibration sensors to ensure that the machine will not loosen due to vibration. Intelligent sensors can also realize process control, such as monitoring the process (such as manufacturing items), and make any adjustments that may be necessary to meet quality or production objectives. This was once a manual process, but intelligent sensors can be used for automatic process control.
Intelligent sensors also play a key role in modern security systems. Thermal imaging sensors can be used to detect the body temperature of intruders. Similarly, devices such as smart locks, motion sensors and door and window sensors are usually connected to the public network. This enables the security sensors to work together to draw a comprehensive map of the current security state.
What are the different types of intelligent sensors?
There are 5 types of intelligent sensors used in industrial environment. Although there are many kinds of special sensors used today, they are usually based on one of 5 sensors.
- Liquid level sensor. The liquid level sensor is used to measure the volume of space occupied in the container. The vehicle's fuel gauge may be connected to a level sensor to monitor the fuel level in the tank.
- Temperature sensor.The temperature sensor is a sensor that can monitor the temperature of components, so corrective measures can be taken when necessary. For example, in industrial environments, temperature sensors can be used to ensure that the machine does not overheat.
- Pressure sensor. The pressure sensor is usually used to monitor the pressure of gas or liquid in the pipeline. A sudden drop in pressure may indicate a leak or flow control problem.
- Infrared sensor.Some infrared sensors, such as those used for thermal imagers or non-contact infrared thermometers, are used for temperature monitoring. Other infrared sensors are optical sensors tuned to the frequency at which they can see light in the infrared spectrum. These types of sensors are used in medical devices, such as pulse oximeters, and electronic devices designed for remote control.
- Proximity sensor.The proximity sensor is used to detect the position of people or objects relative to the sensor. In a retail environment, proximity sensors can track the movement of customers throughout the store.
What is the difference between intelligent sensors and basic sensors?
Intelligent sensors include embedded digital motion processors (DMPs), while basic sensors do not. DMP is essentially just a microprocessor integrated into the sensor. It enables the sensor to perform on-board processing of sensor data. This may mean normalizing the data, filtering noise, or performing other types of signal conditioning. In any case, smart sensors will perform data conversion digital processing before any communication with external devices.
The basic sensor is just a sensor. It is not equipped with DMP or other computing resources that enable it to process data. Smart sensors produce output that is available at any time, while the output of the basic sensor is original and must be converted into a usable format.
Intelligent sensors are generally superior to basic sensors because they include local processing capabilities. Even so, it may be more advantageous to use the basic sensor in some cases. If engineers are designing equipment and need to fully control sensor inputs, it may be more meaningful to use basic sensors than smart sensors. The cost of basic sensors is also lower than that of intelligent sensors because they contain fewer components.
Although intelligent sensors are usually associated with industrial devices, there is no Internet of Things without intelligent sensors.