The IEEE 1451.4 smart sensor standard may not be finalized yet, but that hasn't stopped the market from pushing ahead. Sensors companies were out in full force at NI Week in August to showcase their latest plug-and-play offerings.
Jeffrey Turner, marketing manager for accelerometer marker Wilcoxon Research (www.wilcoxon.com) was demonstrating the firm's first generation of TEDS sensors. Ultimately, the firm hopes to tie its sensors together with wireless technology.
RDP (www.rdpe.com), a maker of transducers that measure linear displacement and loads, just jumped on the bandwagon with both smart and virtual TEDS sensors. "The future is definitely TEDS sensors," said Pete Purdy, an applications engineer for RDP. To underscore his point, Purdy timed a sensor calibration procedure: He clocked in at two seconds—just enough time to plug the cable in.
He was able to do that because TEDS (which stands for transducer electronics datasheet) smart sensors feature an EEPROM that contains all the basic sensor information that a user would normally need to key in manually. Virtual TEDS sensors differ only in that their data is accessed online through a database—a creative way of giving legacy sensors TEDS-like capability.
The fact that NI went live with its web-based, virtual TEDS database on August 1 is likely to create momentum for TEDS. To date, NI is able to access data from 15 sensor manufacturers, with more expected by the end of the year.
Though TEDS advocates normally talk about the cost savings, NI DAQ Marketing Manager Joseph Pearson described another compelling reason to use TEDS: "In many instances, engineers only get a few data points to plot a linear line on an x-y graph. The really cool thing about TEDS is that you can obtain an actual calibration curve, or the coefficients that define the curve."