What you need to know about intelligent sensors with bi-directional communication


An intelligent sensor is essentially a sensor device that possesses the capability to perform a variety of intelligent functions in the course of its everyday use. Intelligent sensors with bi-directional communication have the ability to self-validate, self-test, self-identify and self-adapt. They’re fast replacing smart sensors due to their ability to understand the environment they’re integrated into. They can also manage a range of conditions.

Smart or Intelligent – An Important Distinction

Not all sensors are equal, and it’s important to understand the difference between smart sensors and intelligent sensors. While people often mistake them for being the same, they are in fact quite different. Smart sensors, while being technologically advanced, don’t have the capacity to manage their own functions as a result of outside environment stimulation. On the other hand, an intelligent sensor possesses the ability to detect conditions and respond to them. It can do this because of its architecture of advanced learning, its ability to adapt, and its ability to process signals as part of an integrated circuit.

How Intelligent Sensors Work

An intelligent sensor is a special type of sensor that has the ability to detect certain conditions and respond to them appropriately. This is made possible by the silicon microprocessor that’s incorporated into each sensor. Put simply, an intelligent sensor reacts to a physical or chemical stimulus and then produces an analogue or digital signal that’s read by its microprocessor. The intelligent sensor’s microprocessor constantly monitors the various elements, confirms the data that’s to be sent to the user, and also examines the sensor’s calibration and health. After this, it converts the processed data it’s gathered into usable information and transfers this to an external user who can then make informed and smart decisions.

An intelligent sensor is made up of the following parts:

  • A sensing element
  • An analogue interface circuit
  • A bus interface
  • An analogue to digital converter
  • Sensor housing

It should come as no surprise that intelligent sensors with bi-directional communication capabilities are replacing regular sensors. Standard sensors can only detect and send unprocessed signals to an external system, while intelligent sensors can self-identify, self-test, self-confirm and self-adapt as well as understand, reason, calculate and communicate (with the most advanced models being able to quantify more than two variables at the same time). All of this means that they can help factories reduce their manufacturing processing times, streamline processes, cut down on costs, allow for real time measurement of complex processes, and run more efficiently overall.

Intelligent Sensor Applications

With improvements constantly being made, intelligent sensors with bi-directional communication can be used in a wide range of machinery types across numerous industries. Intelligent sensors are commonly used in the healthcare industry for monitoring and medical diagnostics, in the food and hospitality industry for detection of food safety and biological hazards, in the manufacturing industry for the monitoring of high speed machinery, in early warning fire detection systems, and many others.


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