National Instruments Joins 12 Vendors to Lead Adoption of Smart Analog Sensors

9/25/2002 - National Instruments announced the Plug & Play Sensors Program, a collaborative effort between NI and leading sensor vendors aimed at gaining widespread adoption of IEEE P1451.4. With this proposed sensors standard, systems integrators and developers can automatically configure measurement and automation systems for analog sensors, making data acquisition systems easier to set up, configure, and maintain.

The Plug & Play Sensors Program is a comprehensive initiative to create and promote an open standard for intelligent and easy-to-use analog sensors that users can integrate into their measurement systems as easily as connecting a mouse to a computer. IEEE P1451.4 proposes that sensors include an embedded, low-cost memory chip containing standardized 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.

"Our customers have long needed these 'intelligent' sensors to automate the calibration of data input," said Martin Armson, Director of Marketing at Sensotec, a leading sensor supplier. "Embedded, standardized TEDS information in IEEE P1451.4 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."

Sensor vendors joined the Plug & Play Sensors Program's efforts to integrate new sensor technology and to promote widespread adoption of the IEEE P1451.4 standard so that they can deliver improved system configuration and diagnostics, reduced downtime, and improved sensor data management to their customers. The initial vendors include:

As part of the Plug & Play Sensors Program, NI and sensor vendors also are exploring how to expand plug and play capability to legacy sensors. Through a proposed online database of sensor vendors' model data on, users will be able to download TEDS binary files, or Virtual TEDS, to their systems to instantly give plug and play capabilities to legacy sensors. With Virtual TEDS, engineers can take advantage of new sensor technology with their traditional measurement hardware, providing a smooth transition to the next generation of measurement and automation systems.

In addition, NI has introduced two new engineering tools to easily integrate plug and play sensors into computer-based data acquisition applications. With the TEDS library for LabVIEW, users can implement basic TEDS management functions into their LabVIEW applications, and can read and write TEDS information from those applications. NI also created the NI Plug & Play Sensor Development Kit, a complete data acquisition system for evaluating, using, and developing technologies based on the IEEE P1451.4 specification. This system communicates with smart TEDS sensors, reads and manages TEDS data, and even creates and reprograms TEDS sensors.

"Through the establishment the IEEE P1451.4 standard, the creation of new sensor technology using TEDS data, and the development of new software and hardware to implement smart sensors into data acquisition systems, the Plug & Play Sensors Program delivers benefits for users of next-generation sensors as well as the large installed user base of legacy sensors,"said John Graff, NI Vice President of Marketing.

About National Instruments
National Instruments leverages commercial technologies, such as industry-standard computers and the Internet, to deliver customer-defined measurement and automation solutions. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 2,900 employees and direct operations in 37 countries. NI increases the productivity of engineers and scientists worldwide by delivering easy-to-integrate software and modular hardware. In 2001, the company sold products to more than 24,000 different companies in more than 60 countries around the world. For the past three consecutive years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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