Understanding Smart Sensors

July 15, 2013

The third edition of Understanding Smart Sensors recently came out. It is authored by Randy Frank, who I got to know back when he was an engineer working at Motorola's old Semiconductor Products division, which later became Freescale Semiconductor. Randy was around at the beginning of smart sensing, when the idea of a sensor combined with conditioning electronics on the same chip was just a pipedream, and Kurt Petersen was writing technical papers at IBM that would eventually form the foundation of MEMs technology.

So Randy has been around long enough to know a thing or two about smart sensing, and he covers the topic pretty well in his new book. Randy's 367-page tract can serve as a good way to get familiar both with the basics of smart sensing and with its start of the art. He starts with the basics of smart sensors and continues with the fundamentals of micromaching as it is practiced today. Also covered in detail are micromachined structures such as cooling channels and heating elements, up through mechatronics systems incorporating MEMs relays and embedded sensors.

Standards for smart sensing evolve all the time, so it was good to see that Randy covers those having the most impact today, such as standards for TEDS and Sensor plug-and-play. The topic of energy harvesting for wireless sensor nodes has also become prominent in the last couple of years, and Randy provides a good overview of the technology of what's going on as these systems get applied in monitoring structures, building automation, and a variety of remote monitoring scenarios.

For those who need to get up to speed quickly on smart sensing, Randy's book can be a good resource.

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