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Smart Sensors

“Smart IR Temperature

Paper Presented By:

D.Krishna Kishor Y. Srikanth

( (

Electronics and Communication Dept.

Vignan Institute of Technology & Science,
(Nalgonda Dist)


T his paper discusses the new trend in sensor technology- smart sensors

encompassing the principles of “Smart IR Temperature Sensors”.

Today’s new smart IR sensors represent a union of two rapidly evolving sciences that

combine IR temperature measurement with high-speed digital technologies usually

associated with the computer. These instruments are called smart sensors because they

incorporate microprocessors programmed to act as transceivers for bidirectional,

serial communications between sensors on the manufacturing floor and computers in

the control room.

Today’s more powerful sensor system have the following characteristics:

 Accepts inputs from various sensors.

 Provides local display of sensor readings.

 Allows for non-intrusive sensor calibration.

 Provides relays for local alarm action.

 Follows user defined alarm strategy.

 Accepts feedback signals from final control element.

 Has independent back-up.

 Low cost link to control room.

 Provides centralized monitoring.

In this paper we will give an overview of the recent advances in the smart ir

temperature sensors which includes its application in “Space Heaters.”

Thus, integrating smart sensors into new or existing process control systems

provides engineers with a new level of sophistication in temperature monitoring and


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1. Introduction……………………………………………………… 1

1.1. What is a smart sensor?………………………………………1

2. Smart IR Temperature Sensor………………………………….. 1

2.1. Prologue……………………………………………………….

2.2 How Infrared Temperature Sensor Works………………… 2

2.2.1. New Optics…………………………………………………. 3

3. Digital Electronics Support Fast, Smart Sensors………………. 4

3.1. Software Adds Functionality………………………………… 4

4. Application………………………………………………………... 6

4.1 Making A Space Heater Smart……………………………… 6

4.1.1. Benefits of a smart heater………………………………… 7

5. Conclusion………………………………………………………… 8

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S ensors development in the form of smart sensors incorporates specific industry

needs, including hardened sensors that are resistant to specific environmental

conditions, miniaturized sensors and sensor systems. “Smart sensors answer

precision sensing needs” as they move intelligence closer to the point of mesurement

and control, computation and communication towards a common goal of making it

cost effective.

1.1. What is a smart sensor?

Smart sensors are information sensors. They are those devices that integrate sensors

and circuits to process information obtained from the environment without a

significant human interference.

2. Smart IR Temperature Sensors:

2.1. Prologue: Keeping up with continuously evolving process technologies is a

major challenge for process engineers. Add to that the demands of staying current

with rapidly evolving methods of monitoring and controlling those processes, and the

assignment can become quite intimidating. However, infrared (IR) temperature sensor

manufacturers are giving users the tools they need to meet these challenges: the latest

computer-related hardware, software, and communications equipment, as well as

leading-edge digital circuitry. Chief among these tools, though, is the next generation

of IR thermometers—the smart sensor.

Today’s new smart IR sensors represent a union of two rapidly evolving

sciences that combine IR temperature measurement with high-speed digital

technologies usually associated with the computer.

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Photo 1. The new Raytek Digital MI is the smallest smart sensor

available today. All settings and monitoring can be controlled from a
remote computer in safety away from the production area.

2.2. How Infrared Temperature Sensors Work :

I nfrared (IR) radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes

radio waves, microwaves, visible light, and ultraviolet light, as well as gamma

rays and X-rays. The IR range falls between the visible portion of the spectrum and

radio waves. IR wavelengths are usually expressed in microns, with the IR spectrum

extending from 0.7 to 1000 microns. Only the 0.7-14 micron band is used for IR

temperature measurement.

Using advanced optic systems and detectors, noncontact IR thermometers can

focus on nearly any portion or portions of the 0.7-14 micron band. Because every

object (with the exception of a blackbody) emits an optimum amount of IR energy at

a specific point along the IR band, each process may require unique sensor models

with specific optics and detector types.

Figure 1. Objects reflect,

transmit, and emit
energy. The intensity of
an object's emitted IR
energy increases or
decreases in proportion
to its temperature. It is the
emitted energy,
measured as the target's
emissivity that indicates
an object's temperature.

IR sensors have adjustable emissivity settings, usually from 0.1 to 1.0, which

allow accurate temperature measurements of several surface types. The emitted

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energy comes from an object and reaches the IR sensor through its optical system,

which focuses the energy onto one or more photosensitive detectors. The detector

then converts the IR energy into an electrical signal, which is in turn converted into a

temperature value based on the sensor's calibration equation and the target's

emissivity. This temperature value can be displayed on the sensor, or, in the case of

the smart sensor, converted to a digital output and displayed on a computer terminal.

2.2.1. New Optics:

The optical system of an IR thermometer uses a lens to focus the IR energy emitted by

a target onto a detecting element. The sensor's optical system determines the size of

the spot, the distance from the target, and the accuracy of the measurement. A good

optical design limits the influence of light radiated from sources other than the object

being measured.

The cost of producing an IR optical system continues to decrease, due in large

part to the development of inexpensive plastic fresnel lenses. This cost reduction has

resulted in low-priced IR sensors.

Because most materials that transmit IR energy have high indices of

refraction, they have a higher degree of surface reflection than optical-quality crown

glass. This causes multiple reflections within lenses, which produce a fuzzy image on

the detector and reduces the available resolution of the optical system. However, with

the use of coated optics (antireflection coatings), the reflected fuzzy portion of the

image is reduced to an acceptable level, and the sensor can accurately focus on much

smaller targets. The price of high-quality coated optics has continued to drop,

removing previous price barriers to optimum optical performance. Some high-

performance IR thermometers offer “optical resolution as high as 300:1”.

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Another improvement: IR manufacturers have started using low-cost diode

lasers in their products. An option on many fixed industrial sensors, the laser defines

the center of the IR target, allowing quick alignment for installation of the IR sensor.

3. Digital Electronics Support Fast, Smart Sensors:

Initially, IR sensors were analog systems that amplified the IR signals collected by the

device's optics. These simple sensors provided a nonlinear output, either as a current

loop or a voltage. With a few modifications, these analog systems were even able to

provide linearized output and simple signal processing algorithms, such as a variable

averaging filter. Improvements in the electronics industry have improved signal

processing techniques (e.g., linearization and filtering) in all areas of instrumentation,

and IR is no exception.

Today's IR sensors are smart transducers with fast response times. The

integration of advanced electronics has also resulted in a class of sensors that are

easily compatible with digital communication protocols.

The signal is typically acquired via an instrumentation amplifier, taken

through an A/D converter, and then handed over to a microprocessor or to digital

signal processors (DSPs). High-speed DSPs have enabled fast, smart IR sensors, with

simultaneous digital and analog outputs as fast as 1 ms. For example, if a target

changes temperature by 1°C, the output of the sensor will change by 1°C 1 ms later.

3.1. Software Adds Functionality:

The past 10 years have seen more and more process and quality engineers using

personal computers to monitor and control their production lines. The latest

generation of IR sensors and companion software packages are being designed to

meet the requirements of these PC-based controls. Smart IR temperature sensors with

two-way digital communications are now available, as are software programs that

feature remote sensor setup, diagnostics, and calibration.

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These programs also provide functions for remote monitoring in hazardous

environments, supervisory control, data logging, and statistical analysis.

Photo 3. Sensor setup, monitoring and data analysis is made easy with
PC software and a smart IR sensor with an interface and two-way

The standardization of PC operating systems and graphical

user interfaces (e.g., Windows) have provided familiar

work environments that allow sensor manufacturers to

develop software that is easy to use in plant environments and that facilitate the

training of new users. Unfortunately, vendors of industrial instrumentation are still

locked in fierce competition among numerous communications standards. But despite

their differences, all the standards support smart devices by providing “bidirectional

digital communications” and the ability to address multiple sensing devices.

One common way to work around conflicting communications standards is for

the sensor manufacturer to provide an addressable RS-485 output with a device-

specific control protocol. This standard digital signal can then be patched into an

existing network of sensors via software device drivers or can be used with

companion software from the sensor manufacturer. The latest generation of smart IR

sensors is fully controllable via such digital schemes. Because the signal processing is

largely digital, calibration and firmware upgrades can be made in the field via a serial

communications line. You just start up the software and follow the instructions.

Sensors can even provide diagnostics or be set to a fixed output to calibrate meters in

the current loop.

Screen 1. A DSP in the sensor and standardized PC software allows

onsite calibration via serial communications. An easy-to-use software
interface guides users through the calibration or diagnostics process.

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And those engineers who need to go further than using basic signal processing (e.g.,

peak hold or averaging), custom algorithms for calculating temperature can be

programmed into the sensor on site.

4. Application:

4.1. Making a Space Heater Smart:

The MLX90601 IR module has two built-in, user-programmable, comparator

switching circuits. By taking advantage of the comparators, you can easily design a

simple, low-cost control for either radiant or forced-air heaters. All you need is a

potentiometer and a few resistors. Just be sure to choose a location that aims the IR

sensor in the direction of the emitted heat. The modules perform all the IR signal

conditioning, linearization, and ambient temperature compensation. They are

delivered with a factory calibration, but you can take advantage of the EVB90601

configuration kit to easily change the outputs and the configuration to any desired


Figure 1. The IR
thermometer mounted on the
heater face will average all
the IR energy the sensor
“sees” in its field of view.
This capability allows the
heater to react to the actual
temperature of the area being
heated rather than the
temperature at the heater

In addition, you can use simple apertures or optics to adjust the sensor’s “field of


First, choose these parameters:

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• First, choose these parameters:

• The object temperature calibration range

• The temperature range desired for the thermostat potentiometer dial

• The amount of hysteresis band desired for the thermostat set point temperature

• The maximum allowable space heater housing temperature

• The hysteresis band for the housing temperature alarm/switch

For this example, we’ll have the heater operate where the IR temperature

range is –10°C to 40°C. We want the thermostat to be able to adjust the heated area

from 6°C to 26°C by means of a potentiometer. We configure the hysteresis to be

2°C. This will be the temperature swing band for the thermostat to control the space

we want to heat. For example, if we set the control to 22°C, the heater will turn on at

20°C target area temperature and turn off at 24°C target area temperature.

We will set the ambient temperature range shutoff switch to engage when the

heater’s outer housing/IR module temperature goes above 60°C. We want the heater

to return to normal operation when it cools to below 50°C housing temperature.

(There can even be a permanent shutdown, with manual reset, if desired. This

additional safety feature protects against overheating of the heating unit itself.)

4.1.1. Benefits of a Smart Heater :

The IR sensor has the advantage of seeing what’s in front of it. So when someone

moves into that area, the heater detects the temperature of that person’s clothing and

adjusts its output to hold the clothing at the temperature set by the thermostat. Colors

—of clothing, furniture, rugs, wood and other materials common in habitable spaces

—have no effect on the IR reading.

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The sensor adds a safety feature too. When something flammable such as a

drape comes too near the heating element, the sensor reading directs the heater to drop

into the preselected low temperature range and so reduce the chances of a

conflagration. Finally, the module’s built-in ambient temperature sensor and

comparator circuit monitor the temperature of the heater housing itself. Should the

housing become overheated, the comparator can activate an alarm and shut the heater

down. So in addition to enhanced comfort, the smart space heater can give you some

peace of mind.

5. Conclusion:

The new generation of smart IR temperature sensors allows process engineers

to keep up with changes brought on by newer manufacturing techniques and increases

in production. They now can configure as many sensors as necessary for their specific

process control needs and extend the life of those sensors far beyond that of earlier,

“non-smart” designs. As production rates increase, equipment downtime must

decrease. By being able to monitor equipment and fine-tune temperature variables

without shutting down a process, engineers can keep the process efficient and the

product quality high. A smart IR sensor’s digital processing components and

communications capabilities provide a level of flexibility, safety, and ease of use not

achieved until now. And for personal safety, making adjustments to sensor

measurement parameters without having to walk 10 ft above a 1500°C process makes

a smart IR device very desirable.


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1. Electrical And Electronic Measurements &


2. Measurement Systems Applications & Designs………………...Ernest


3. Process Measurement & Analysis…………………………………….B.G.


4. Electronic Instrumentation & Measurement……………………….Chin &


5. Principles Of Industrial


6. Process Control & Instrumentation






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