How to Make Proper Use of 1 Trillion Sensors (page 2)

Feb 17, 2014
Tsuneyuki Miyake, Nikkei Electronics

Intelligent sensors will gain importance

Therefore, Magori stresses that it is essential to develop intelligent sensors in an era when a much larger number of sensors are installed. In the first place, human errors occur at the time of deploying sensors because they are set up by hand.

Many sensors currently being used have a single function of detecting a target. A type and unit of data have to be set on the side of a controller that receives the data (e.g. whether sensor output is temperature or humidity). Also, wiring for controllers and sensors are done by hand, making incorrect setting and wiring inevitable. With a huge number of sensors, it is not practical to check all of them.

Intelligent sensors will help solve this problem. If sensors can transmit the kind, unit and ID of information they are outputting to a network by using a general format based on, for example, Internet protocol and they are recognized by a controller or server, it becomes possible to eliminate human errors at the time of setup and installation.

Specifically, intelligent sensors will be devices that have a sensor, signal processing circuit and communication function with TCP/IP processing capability in one package. By setting a kind, unit and ID of information in a manufacturing process, it becomes possible to eliminate mistakes in the installation process.

However, Magori considers that such sensors are not sufficient as future intelligent sensors. For example, data output from a temperature sensor has different meanings depending on installation conditions. When it is installed near a window facing south, it shows a higher room temperature than in the case when it is near a corridor on the north side.

Furthermore, the meaning of temperature data output from a sensor changes depending on whether it is near a window through which sunlight is coming, whether it is raining outside, whether it is near a heat-generating home appliance on the side of a corridor, etc. To know the correct meaning of data, information on the surrounding environment, which influences temperature data, should be taken into consideration.

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