It’s impossible to imagine the modern world without sensors. We use them every day at home, at the office, in a car, etc. Different types of home sensors significantly simplify our lives by turning on the lights when detecting our presence, adjusting the temperature inside, detecting smoke or fire, and much more. But the use of sensors goes far beyond our homes. A variety of industries benefit from numerous opportunities advanced sensor technologies have to offer in 2021. But before we move on to the examples of these breakthrough sensors, let’s figure out what a sensor is and how it actually works.
A sensor is a device that detects changes in the environment and transmits signals about them to the output channels of another system. The sensor converts a physical phenomenon into a measurable analog voltage (or digital signal), converted into readable form or transmitted for reading and further processing. This means that sensors enable unmatched opportunities for data collection and analysis.
Different types of sensors are designed to measure different physical phenomena. For instance:
- Thermocouples for measuring temperature
- Microphones for detecting sound waves
- Optical sensors for light detection and data transmission
- Location sensors (GPS) for recording geographic coordinates
In this article, we will cover one of the most useful devices among modern sensors.
Soil Moisture Sensors
The agricultural industry is already adjusting to climate change. Moisture deficiency, increased temperature in summer, uneven distribution of precipitation during the season, insufficient precipitation for winter crops at the germination stage or in spring are the issues familiar to almost every farmer. Soil moisture monitoring is the key to solving these problems effectively.
Growers usually face the questions of when and how deep to sow, how much and what kind of fertilizers to apply (whether the moisture level is sufficient to assimilate these fertilizers), what is the yield potential based on the moisture available to plants, how to plan irrigation depending on the phases of crop development. Soil moisture sensors are the device that help to answer these questions by providing farmers with accurate measurements of the current soil moisture content.
There are three types of soil moisture sensors:
- Ground sensors – installed below the soil surface for root zone moisture monitoring
- Aerial sensors (UAVs) – drones flying over the field for soil moisture mapping;
- Satellites – advanced satellite imagery analytics with different AI algorithms to pull out data on soil moisture
The best way to go here is to use the combination of these types of sensors. This will allow for retrieving the real and most accurate picture through comparing data from different sensors.
Thermal Mass Flowmeters
Thermal mass flowmeter is designed to convert the temperature values of liquids and gases into a unified output signal. The peculiarity of thermal mass flowmeters is that they take into account even small volumes of measured medium.
Ultimately, thermal mass flowmeter is a device in which the effect of heat transfer from a heated body by a moving medium is used to measure the flow rate of a liquid or gas, and measures the flow rate of a substance passing through a given section of a pipeline per unit of time. If the device has an integrating device with a counter and serves to simultaneously measure the amount of a substance, then it is called a flow meter with a counter.
The low price and high reliability of these devices have led to their widespread use in different industries. Flowmeters are used in gas supply systems, gas mixing and gas filling stations, ventilation systems, flotation stations, boiler rooms, food industry, and microelectronics.
The automation of vehicle control systems rises to a new level every year. Years ago, automatic activation of windshield wipers and washers was an additional option. Now, this function is included in the basic configuration in most car models. A car rain detector is a special sensor device that is usually installed in the passenger compartment of a car and is designed to monitor rainfall on the windshield. Its main task is to generate a control signal for the multifunctional body control unit, which, after processing the data, gives commands to turn on the wipers. Depending on the type of the sensor itself, the level of its response, the intensity of precipitation, rain sensors are able to control even the speed of the wipers.
Rain detection sensors are also used in agriculture in automatic irrigation systems. Their main purpose is to notify the controller of the irrigation system about the occurrence of precipitation, thus the system will not allow irrigation of the area during rain, which will eliminate unnecessary water waste. The rain sensor is usually installed in an open area in close proximity to the irrigation system in order to accurately assess the need for watering.