Smart transducers – Networking sensors and actuators

Smart transducer with distance sensor connected to Atmel AVR Microcontroller

Transducers are sensors and actuators that allow a technical system to interact with the physical environment. An intelligent or “smart” transducer is the integration of an analog or digital sensor or actuator element, a processing unit, and a communication interface.
The smart transducer technology allows a two-level design approach that helps to reduce the overall complexity of a system by separating issues between manufacturers and application designers.
The transducer manufacturer will deal with instrumenting the local transducer and signal conditioning in order to export the transducer’s service in a standardized way. On the other hand transducer manufacturers are liberated from interoperability issues between sensors. The application designer can access the transducer data via an abstract interface that hides the internal complexity of the transducer hardware and software. Thus, smart transducer applications can be built in a less complex way.
In other words, smart transducers are kind of an “Internet of sensors and actuators”. However, smart transducers come with their own standards and protols, which enable a simple implementation, a ressource-efficient handling of data, and real-time communication capabilities.
Two promising smart transducer standards are the IEEE 1451.2 standard and the OMG Smart Transducer Interface Standard. IEEE 1451.2 favors the introduction of self-contained nodes, which keep the configuration data physically associated to the nodes. In contrast, the OMG STI standard follows the approach of keeping memory requirements on nodes very low and instead enforces a tight integration of smart transducer systems with software tools and external system descriptions.

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About Wilfried Elmenreich

Understanding the communication networks of the future.
This entry was posted in Protocols, Real-Time Networks and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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