"Smart" Sensors and their Applications

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Introduction

The word “smart” has been often applied to various sensor products and its meaning has been expanded by the continuous arrival of new and improved concepts in technology. The rapid improvements in the technology, including compactness and advanced microprocessor integration, make the range of sensor applications almost boundless.

The smart sensor has intelligent capabilities such as wireless communication and being an on-board microcontroller. It is used for analog to digital conversion, digital processing, decision making and two-way communications. Smart sensors have various advantages in comparison to conventional sensors such as smaller size, minimal power consumption, and high performance.

A smart sensor is an analog or digital transducer combined with  sensing and computing abilities. It consists of a transduction component, signal conditioning electronics, and a processor that supports some intelligence in a single package. This integrated device sensor, which has electronics and the transduction element jointly on one Si wafer, is known as system-on-chip.

There are several technologies that are involved making the sensor ‘intelligent’.

Micro electro mechanical system (MEMS)

This system helps the sensor to work in an intelligent way by allowing them to maintain the large amount of data in just a blink of an eye. The typical data that is collected by the sensor is processed with the microprocessor, which by an advanced calculation erases or stores the data. The major advantages of MEMS technology include minimizing energy and materials, enhanced reproducibility, improved accuracy as well as increased sensitivity and selectivity.

Very Large Scale Integration Technology (VLSI)

VLSI is the process of miniaturization of computer chips and implanting an emphatically large number of transistors gates on a single silicon semiconductor wafer. VLSI has many advantages such as reducing the size of circuits and the cost of the devices, increasing the operation speed of the circuit,  less power consumption, while occuping a relatively smaller area.

Applications of smart sensors

Sensors allow the detection of data and key performance metrics that can be examined to improve the efficiency. Briefly explained the areas of applications of the smart sensor but not limited to these areas of applications.

Industrial

In the industrial field, productivity, quality, reliability, and safety heavily depend on the performance of the sensors employed. The industrial equipment is monitored and controlled for analyzing compression, temperature, moisture, and vibrations. In the new wave of the ‘Internet of Things’, smart sensors could not only dramatically change the system design of traditional applications, but enable the development of new applications.

Healthcare

Everyone today is so busy that they often forget to take care of their health. With the advancement of technology, many intelligent or medical sensors have emerged that continually analyze individual patient activity and automatically predict a heart attack before the patient feels sick, for example.

Telecommunication

A smart card known as a Wireless Identity Module (WIM) is similar to the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) used on existing GSM cellular phones. The smart card guarantees 100% security for e-commerce transactions by providing authentication of the parties involved, by means of encryption and digital signatures.

Smart Dust

Smart dust is a hypothetical wireless network of tiny MEMS sensors, robots, or devices, which can detect light, temperature, and vibrations. The devices will eventually be the size of a particle of sand or even a dust particle. The main purpose of each particle is to collect and relay information up to 1 km.

Military

Military equipment is expected to be increasingly equipped with processing interfaces and communication abilities, which can be used to inspect or modify the status of the equipment. To some extent, the equipment could be considered as sensors and integrated into the rest of the military information infrastructure.

Sources

  1. http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/8700
  2. https://ijarcce.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IJARCCE4A___a_manali_study.pdf
  3. https://www.mepits.com/tutorial/193/basic-electronics/smart-sensors
  4. https://www.sensortips.com/hot-topic/sensor-specific-software/what-is-a-smart-sensor

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