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Wireless sensors poise to enter into commercial environments

Posted: 13 May 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless sensor? RF wave? wireless communication?

According to an analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan, sensor industries has established networks of wireless sensors that can operate in demanding environments and provide clear advantages in cost, size, power, flexibility, and distributed intelligence. These sensors, with control and command signals operated by RF waves, are becoming increasingly popular on factory floors and among key sensor development companies, noted Technical Insights.

"The merging of wireless communications and sensors is a monumental step for both of these technologies," says Technical Insights analyst James P. Smith. "The growth of the personal communications market is driving the cost of RF devices down and quality levels up."

The expenses associated with installing, terminating, testing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and upgrading wiring is also growing. With wire in some specialized installations approaching $2,000 per foot, the appeal of wireless systems is obvious.

Though wireless sensors offer distinct solutions, many engineers are not yet convinced that they will be reliable in the factory floor environment. Generally, when a wireless sensor network is designed for a real-world application, engineers tend to support a proven product, although it may have limitations.

"Customer acceptance of wireless technology, led by the wireless telephone market, is likely to spread to industry similar to the way industrial clients have accepted the personal computer," says Smith. "Trends are already evident that encourage increased use of sensors, software, and controls to bolster a company's competitive advantage."

Although their applications are likely to become far more widespread, wireless sensors currently depend on applications in which wiring is impossible to install, too expensive, or where operating and support costs are prohibitively high. These include environments where sealed compartments are required.

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