Sensors Expo Fall 2002: NI, 12 vendors advocate smart analog sensor adoption


Boston, MA— National Instruments (NI, Austin, TX) introduced its new Plug & Play sensors program on Sept. 24 at Sensors Expo Fall 2002 . Plug & Play is a collaborative effort between NI and a dozen sensor vendors to gain widespread adoption of IEEE P1451.4. Using this proposed sensors standard, systems integrators and developers can automatically configure measurement and automation systems for analog sensors, making data acquisition systems easier to set up, configure and maintain.

Plug & Play is an initiative to create and promote an open standard for intelligent and easy-to-use analog sensor, which users can integrate into their measurement systems as easily as connecting a mouse to a computer. IEEE P1451.4 proposes that sensors include an embedded, low-cost memory chip, which contains standardized transducer electronic data sheets (TEDS) that store important sensor information and parameters for self-identification and self-description. TEDS eliminate the need to manually input this data when configuring a system.

"Our customers have long needed these 'intelligent' sensors to automate calibration of data input,' says Martin Armson, Sensotec's marketing director. 'Embedded, standardized TEDS information in IEEE P1451.4 sensors not only reduces system configuration time for our customers, but also increases the general integrity and reliability of their systems by reducing human error.'

So far, 12 sensor vendors have joined the Plug & Play program to integrate new sensor technology and promote widespread adoption of the IEEE P1451.4 standard, so they can deliver improved system configuration and diagnostics, reduced downtime, and improved sensor data management to their customers.

These 12 initial vendors are:

  • Celesco,

  • Endevco,

  • Kistler,

  • Lebow,

  • Macro Sensors,

  • Measurement Specialties,

  • PCB Piezotronics,

  • Sensotec,

  • Transducer Techniques,

  • Watlow,

  • Weed Instrument, and

  • Wilcoxon.

In another part of the Plug & Play program, NI and these sensor vendors are exploring how to expand plug and play capability to legacy sensors. Using a proposed online database of sensor vendors' model data at, users will be able to download TEDS binary files or Virtual TEDS to their systems to instantly give plug and play capabilities to legacy sensors. With Virtual TEDS, engineers can take advantage of new sensor technology with their traditional measurement hardware, providing a smooth transition to the next generation of measurement and automation systems.

In addition, NI has introduced two new engineering tools to easily integrate plug and play sensors into computer-based data acquisition applications. With the TEDS library for LabVIEW, users can implement basic TEDS management functions into LabVIEW applications, and can read and write TEDS information from those applications. NI also created the NI Plug & Play Sensor Development Kit, a complete data acquisition system for evaluating, using, and developing technologies based on the IEEE P1451.4 specification. This system communicates with smart TEDS sensors, reads and manages TEDS data, and even creates and reprograms TEDS sensors.

"By establishing the IEEE P1451.4 standard; creating new sensor technology using TEDS data; and developing new software and hardware to implement smart sensors into data acquisition systems, the Plug & Play program delivers benefits for users of next-generation sensors, as well as for the large base of installed legacy sensors,' says John Graff, NI's marketing vp.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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