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Ubiquitous sensor modules for field applications Disclosure Number: IPCOM000235806D
Publication Date: 2014-Mar-25
Document File: 4 page(s) / 181K

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The Prior Art Database


A disposable sensor network linked with mobile devices and backend systems used to gather and process data to make field operations more efficient and safe, and to produce more reliably correct outcomes. Data is interpreted in the context of business processes, both locally in the field and remotely in the cloud.

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Ubiquitous sensor modules for field applications

Field service and maintenance operations often require specialized sensing equipment, such as temperature or pressure gauges, or electrical signal measuring devices. Sometimes, additional sensors are employed to monitor environmental conditions, such as the radiation exposure "badges" worn by nuclear workers. The sensory equipment typically does not record any information -- it merely displays it. And the environmental sensors typically record very little information, perhaps just an aggregate sum over time.

If, however, the tools, sensors, and monitors used by field employees were able to record their physical locations, how they were being used (e.g. what, specifically, were they measuring), and the actual measurements, then this data could be combined with field service information (scheduling and job information, as well as technical bulletins, equipment specifications, and repair/maintenance manuals) to represent a data-rich picture of the field operation. This rich representation could then be mined to:

Identify environmental or other hazards that could affect the health or safety of the employee or the proper functioning and useful life of equipment.

Optimize service and maintenance processes.

Audit operations performed in the field, e.g. at the request of the customer or the equipment manufacturer, for warranty or regulatory or other purposes.

Automate measurements of compliance to corporate/organization/industry/government regulations.

Furthermore, the sensors need not be especially robust, long lasting, or maintainable. They may be disposable and left in place once deployed in case subsequent field service operations are conducted in the same space or on the same equipment. Similarly, they may operate for relatively short intervals, such as hours, days, or weeks, due to battery life, calibration drift, or other factors. In this case, the sensors may be re-used in subsequent field service operations once the technician replaces the battery, conducts a calibration, etc.

The ubiquity of mobile devices allows a solution in which sensors communicate locally with a mobile device which is capable of recording the sensor data. Also, the mobile application can correlate sensor data with the physical location of the sensor and information about the field operation (job) being performed. The data may be cached locally on the mobile device or immediately uploaded to a cloud service.

Individual sensors may be:

Embedded in tools;

Attached to mobile devices carried by the field service worker;

Self-contained, e.g. small modules that may be "scattered" around the site of the work so that the field service worker can monitor conditions relevant to health/safety or to the proper functioning of the equipment being serviced or to the effectiveness of tools used in the work.

Disposable, or with limited intervals of operation due to, e.g. battery life.

Examples include:

Gas leak sensors;