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What Is an Integrated Sensor?

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  • Written By: Benjamin Arie
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2014
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An integrated sensor is a small apparatus that is designed to gather important data. These types of sensors are combined or “integrated” with signal processing hardware in one compact device. This all-in-one approach allows the sensor to send signals that can be used immediately, without additional processing or amplification.

The combined sensing and signal processing capabilities make these units ideal for “turnkey” solutions, where they can be installed with very few preparations. Integrated sensors can save space and weight compared to other data gathering technologies. These types of sensors also reduce the time needed to design a new device, since the data acquisition method does not need to be re-engineered. A ready-to-use sensor can be installed rapidly.

Integrated sensors are also inherently replaceable. These units are often mass produced as ready-to-use components. If an installed sensor malfunctions or is broken, a technician can quickly exchange the defective part with an exact duplicate. The integrated nature of these sensors eliminates the need to troubleshoot and replace intricate components.

There are many different applications for integrated sensors. In the vehicle and aerospace industries, these sensors are often used for gathering accelerometer data. This can provide an onboard computer with vital information about the acceleration and deceleration of a vehicle. Car airbags and aircraft emergency systems are two examples where integrated sensor data is critical.

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An integrated sensor can also be useful in other non-critical applications. Pressure and temperature sensors are commonly installed inside engines or environmental systems. The feedback from a small sensor is often helpful for making automatic adjustments that keep a machine operating at peak efficiency.

The medical industry also makes frequent use of integrated sensors. Many sensors are able to identify minute amounts of a chemical. These can be used by pharmaceutical research groups and hospital physicians to closely monitor an experiment or medical test. The compact size of an integrated sensor makes it possible to gather data that would be inaccessible by other means.

Integrated sensors are very common consumer technology and communications equipment. Cell phones, laptop computers, and digital cameras are all examples of devices that often contain integrated sensors. In a camera, for instance, an integrated sensor can be used to gather light data and allow the exposure to adjust correctly. One type of sensor may be installed in a variety of camera models, because the integrated component is simple and standardized.

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