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NI unveils Plug and Play Sensors program

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National Instruments has set up a collaborative program with 12 sensor vendors aimed at gaining widespread adoption of intelligent sensors used to automatically calibrate data input in test systems.

Using IEEE P1451.4, the Plug and Play Sensors Program aims to promote an open standard for intelligent and easy-to-use analogue sensors that users can integrate into their measurement systems as easily as connecting a mouse to a computer.

The IEEE standard itself proposes that sensors include an embedded, low-cost memory chip containing standardised 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, according to program participant Sensotec marketing director Martin Armson.

“Our customers have long needed these ‘intelligent’ sensors to automate the calibration of data input,” Armson said.

“Embedded, standardised TEDS information in IEEE1451.4 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.”

Other vendors to join the program include PCB Piezotronics, Celesco, Endevco, Lebow, Macro Sensors, Watlow, Transducer Techniques and Kistler.

Both NI and the sensor vendors are also exploring ways of expanding the plug and play capabilities to legacy sensors by providing an online database through which users will be able to download TEDS binary files or Virtual TEDS to their systems to instantly add those capabilities.

NI has also introduced the TEDS library fro LabVIEW, allowing users to implement basic TEDS management functions into their LabVIEW applications, as well as read and write TEDS information from those applications.

The company has also created the plug and play sensor development toolkit – a complete DAQ system that communicates with smart TEDS sensors, reads and manages TEDS data and creates and reprograms TEDS sensors on the IEEE P1451.4 standard.

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