Plug and play sensors

A collaborative initiative between National Instruments and several sensor vendors, called the Plug & Play Sensors Program, aims to promote the widespread adoption of IEEE P1451.4.

The IEEE P1451.4 standard proposes that sensors include an embedded, low-cost memory chip containing standardised 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 sensor supplier. ‘Embedded, standardised 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.’

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 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 and 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.

The initial Plug and Play sensor vendors include: Celesco, Endevco, Kistler, Lebow, Macro Sensors, Measurement Specialties, PCB Piezotronics, Sensotec, Transducer Techniques, Watlow, Weed Instrument and Wilcoxon.