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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What are Sensors in IoT?
3.
Working of Sensors in IoT
4.
Classification of sensors
4.1.
Analog and Digital sensors
4.2.
Active and Passive Sensors
5.
Sensor Selection
6.
Importance of sensors in IoT
7.
Applications of IoT
8.
Frequently Asked Questions
8.1.
Why do we use sensors in IoT?
8.2.
What is the future of sensors in IoT?
8.3.
How do sensors in IoT communicate?
9.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Sensors in IoT

Leveraging ChatGPT - GenAI as a Microsoft Data Expert
Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

Do you know that sensors are the fundamental components of an IoT device? Do you know sensors enable IoT devices to interact and collect data from the physical world? If not, then don’t worry. We will clear all your doubts.

Sensors in IoT

In this article, we will discuss about sensors in IoT, their working, and classification. We will also discuss about importance and application of sensors in IOT devices. Moving forward, let’s first understand about what are sensors in IoT.

What are Sensors in IoT?

In the Internet of Things, a sensor is any device that measures and responds to physical input. It measures physical input from its environment and converts it into data that a human or a machine can understand. Light, heat, motion, wetness, pressure, or any other major environmental phenomenon can be used as the specific input. The output is usually a signal that is transformed to a human-readable layout at the sensor location or sent via a network for reading or additional processing.

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Working of Sensors in IoT

An IoT system is made up of sensors/devices that "talk" to the cloud via the connection. When data enters the cloud, software analyses it and may decide to respond, such as sending an alarm or automatically adjusting sensors/devices without the user's intervention.

However, if user input is required or if the user wishes to check in on the system, a user interface allows them to do so. Any modifications made by the user are then transferred in the other route via the system: from the user interface to the cloud and back to the devices to make a few changes.

Classification of sensors

Sensors in IoT can be divided into various classification systems, but we have divided them into five core classifications for simplification.

Analog and Digital sensors

Analog Sensor: The analog sensor can sense external parameters (wind speed, solar radiation, light intensity, etc.) and produces analog voltage as output. The output voltage might be in the range of 0 to 5V. A logic high is treated as “1” (3.5 to 5V), and a logic low is indicated as “0” (0 to 3.5 V).

Classification of sensors

Digital Sensor: Unlike analog sensors, Digital sensors produce discrete values (0 and 1’s) as output. Discrete values are often called digital (binary) signals in digital communication.

Active and Passive Sensors

Active Sensors: Active sensors generate an energy pulse and detect the energy reflected back to them. They operate primarily in the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing them to penetrate virtually any atmospheric condition, including cloud cover, which can present issues for passive sensors. 

An example of an active sensor is an X-Ray machine. The x-ray machine sends energy into our bodies and measures what the sensor reflects back from impermeable structures at that wavelength.
 

Passive Sensors: Self-generated sensors, also known as passive sensors, create their own electric signal and do not require any external power. Thermal sensors, electric field sensing, and metal detection are examples of passive sensors.

Sensor Selection

It is vital to understand analog and digital circuits in order to choose a sensor. Capacitors, resistors, operational amplifiers, diodes, and transistors are examples of analog components found in analog circuits.

Digital circuits, on the other hand, are made up of logic gates and microcontroller chips. External noise affects analog signals, causing inaccuracies in the output signal. However, because digital signals are more vulnerable to noise in noisy situations, digital sensors are preferable to analog sensors.

The computation range of digital sensors is limited. The temperature range of a digital temperature sensor like the SHT series, for example, is smaller.

Analog temperature sensors (RTD) offer a higher resolution than digital temperature sensors. Analog sensors are more suited for large temperature ranges and stability because of this property. The ADC on the microcontroller handles the sensor's analog output (Analog to Digital Converter).

Importance of sensors in IoT

The primary goal of sensors is to collect data from the outside world. The front end of the IoT system is shaped by the sensors, or 'things.' However, not all sensors are created equal, and different IoT applications necessitate distinct sensor types. A Serial Peripheral Interface bus, for example, makes it simple for digital sensors to communicate with a microcontroller. An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) or a Sigma-Delta modulator is used to transform data into SPI output for analog sensors.

Applications of IoT

  1. To commence with, wearable IoT devices allow hospitals to monitor their patient's health at home, minimizing hospital stays while yet delivering up-to-date real-time information that potentially saves lives. Smart beds in hospitals keep employees informed about available space, reducing the time spent waiting for a bed. Installing IoT sensors on essential equipment reduces downtime and improves reliability, which might mean the difference between life and death.
     
  2. In most places around the world, pollution is one of the most serious issues. It's not always clear if we're breathing oxygen or smog. In such a case, the Internet of Things (IoT) can be a major assist in lowering pollution levels to more breathable levels. This can be accomplished by employing various sensors in conjunction with IoT to collect data on city pollution, such as car emissions, pollen levels, airflow direction, weather, traffic levels, and so on.
     
  3. According to statistics, the world's population will reach approximately 10 billion by 2050. To feed such a large population, agriculture must be combined with technology to achieve optimum outcomes. In this field, there are several options. The Smart Greenhouse is one of them. A greenhouse with embedded electronics is not only easy to monitor, but it also allows us to adjust the climate within it. Sensors collect data on a variety of characteristics based on the plant's needs and send it to the cloud. The data is subsequently processed, and a control action is taken.
     
  4. Faster development and product quality are essential factors in getting a higher Return on Investment in the industrial automation industry. It's even conceivable to re-engineer things and their packaging for better cost and consumer experience using IoT technologies. IoT can be game-changing in this field because it has solutions for all of the following domains.
     
  5. Most of you have heard of the term Smart City by now. One of the many factors that make up a smart city is the notion of an optimized traffic system. The smart city concept has the advantage of being particularly customized to a place. Mumbai's difficulties are far different from those in Delhi. Hong Kong's issues are distinct from those in New York. Even global challenges such as limited clean drinking water, decreasing air quality, and rising urban density manifest themselves differently in different places. As a result, they have a varied impact on each city.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we use sensors in IoT?

We use sensors in IoT in order to detect environmental changes. For example, a temperature sensor can detect ambient temperature and also allows adjusting it. A motion sensor can help in detecting the movement or triggering an alarm or recording. Sensors allow IoT devices to gather information from the environment, which can then be used to optimize resource usage and enhance user experiences.

What is the future of sensors in IoT?

In the future, sensors will be more intelligent and measure more accurately. It will play an essential role in the growth and development of IoT devices, eventually improving and optimizing resource use. Sensors allow the creation of efficient systems which can make life easier.

How do sensors in IoT communicate?

Sensors in IoT communicate through various wired and wireless communication sensors in order to transfer the data to other devices. For example, gateways, servers, or cloud. Some commonly used communication sensors are Bluetooth, wi-fi, cellular networks, and so on.

Conclusion

This article taught us about the different types of sensors in IoT. We have discussed active and passive sensors, sensor selection, and many applications of sensors.

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