Wireless technology: Device bridges the gap between RFID, sensor networks


Keeping up with the flood of wireless industrial instrumentation and networking equipment can be difficult. Hardly a day goes by without a new product of some sort. Occasionally, a technology emerges that offers an intriguing new wrinkle and closes a gap between different levels of coverage.

Machine Talker Inc . supplies a line of devices with the same name to bridge the space between conventional RFID tags and wireless instrumentation mesh networks. The best way to think of them is as an intelligent RFID system. Imagine a device with the following features on one board:

  • Radio transceiver

  • Temperature sensor

  • Light detector

  • Accelerometer

  • GPS

  • Microphone

  • UART for serial I/O

  • A/D converter

The original applications for these centered on freight and shipping uses. The device is capable of monitoring its location and conditions, with capability to store this information or share it with nearby devices or gateway. Multiple Machine Talkers in adjacent containers on a ship communicate with each other and share information via a self-forming mesh network. If one experiences a high temperature or impact, the appropriate sensor will detect and record it.

When something offers all these capabilities and is not very expensive, creative people will find new uses for it. Sense-Comm Technology is now using Machine Talkers as transmitters to network instrumentation for petroleum tank farm monitoring. The first sensors include radar level detectors, power factor meters, current probes, flow, pressure, and motion detectors.

Because the unit has an A/D converter, it can serve as a proxy for any type of instrument and link it to a mesh network with other Machine Talkers. With appropriate programming, a Machine Talker can be instructed to perform many functions. For example, it can monitor a process variable, but only send out a report under specific circumstances. As long as things are happening as they should, it remains quiet and does not transmit.

"Using a Java-based API, Machine Talkers can be programmed to monitor events, maintain records, and service all types of sensors," says Roland F. Bryan, president and CEO. "In one application, they monitor and report on goods in transit and the shipping containers themselves; in another, they permit external connection of industrial sensing devices. In both applications, the same Talker product is used, differing only in their respective software."

This technology offers a very interesting package with a lot of potential for creative engineers. Machine Talkers will likely turn up in a wide variety of applications.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Peter Welander , process industries editor

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Sensor-to-cloud interoperability; PID and digital control efficiency; Alarm management system design; Automotive industry advances
Make Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things work for you, 2017 Engineers' Choice Finalists, Avoid control design pitfalls, Managing IIoT processes
Engineering Leaders Under 40; System integration improving packaging operation; Process sensing; PID velocity; Cybersecurity and functional safety
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
click me