Pressure Sensors Plod Along

No Matter What Market Researchers Say, High Technology Has Not Reached The Pressure Sensor Business

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Look through the collection of pressure sensors that follows, and count the number of devices with advanced technology.


We saw no sensors or transmitters with MEMS technology, for example. Not a single device claims to use IEEE P1451.4 smart sensor technology. Nor did we see any fieldbus-compatible devices. 


We saw one device with RS232/IEEE 488, one with a HART interface, and one with an Ethernet connection. Most transmittters are sticking with tried and true sensor interfacing methods, such as 4-20 mA, 0-5 VDC, and so on.


The most advanced devices have built-in microprocessors and software for remote adjustments, remote re-ranging, or temperature compensation.


Today's pressure sensors are smaller and faster than ever before, provide extremely good accuracy and resolution, and perform better than ever. But their manufacturers seem to be resisting the adoption of any other advanced technologies.


It looks like the concept of putting pressure sensors onto the information highway has taken a detour.


In spite of the evidence, market research companies still claim that modern technology is driving the sensor market.


Michael Valenti, principal analyst for Technical Insights, a unit of John Wiley, New York, says, "Sensor networks that eliminate cables and replace them with radio frequency transmission are making it possible to remotely program and receive information from a web of sensors located throughout a facility."


We didn't see any wireless sensors, by the way.


"The fastest growth will occur in sensors based on advanced, sophisticated technology especially micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and optoelectronics," says a sensors study from The Freedonia Group ( "More generally, many types of sensors are incorporating the latest advances in microchip fabrication technology, especially those that are inherently solid-state devices."


It may be that MEMS and microchip fabrication technology are actually being used in some new pressure sensors, but we didn't see it. It could just be that the vendors didn't see fit to include these technologies in their otherwise glowing product descriptions.


Or it could be that market researchers, as is their wont, are taking flights of fancy once again to sell their expensive market studies.


If such products do come to the industrial market, we will be the first to bring them to you. In the meantime, the following pressure sensors represent a cross section of what is actually available today. They may not have MEMS technology or web servers, but the pressure instruments that follow represent some awfully advanced sensor technology.


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