What is Smart Sensor : Working & Its Applications

In instrumentation systems, sensors are very essential devices. At present, most of the types of sensors are smart. So in these sensors, the sensing elements & electronics are integrated on the same chip. So, the integration of electronics and sensors to make an intelligent sensor is known as a smart sensor. This sensor can make some decisions. These sensors have many benefits like higher S/N ratio, fast signal conditioning, auto-calibration, self-testing, high reliability, small physical size, detection & prevention of failure. So, this article discusses an overview of a smart sensor, it’s working, and its applications.

What is a Smart Sensor/Define Smart Sensors?

A smart sensor is a device that uses a transducer to gather particular data from a physical environment to perform a predefined & programmed function on the particular type of gathered data then it transmits the data through a networked connection.

The features of the smart sensor are; self-identification, digital sensor data, smart calibration & compensation, multi-sensing capacity, sensor communication for configuration of remote & remote monitoring, etc.

Smart Sensors
Smart Sensors

Smart Sensor Working Principle

Smart sensors work by capturing data from physical environments & changing their physical properties like speed, temperature, pressure, mass, or presence of humans into calculable electrical signals. These sensors include a Digital Motion Processor (DMP). Here a DMP is one type of microprocessor that allows the sensor to perform onboard processing of the smart sensor data like filtering noise otherwise performing different kinds of signal conditioning.

These sensors have 4 main functions measurement, configuration, verification & communication.

  • Measurements are simply taken through detecting physical signals & changing them into electrical signals. So this will help in monitoring and measuring things like temperature, traffic, & industrial applications.
  • Configuration function is a significant feature as it allows the smart sensor to detect position otherwise installation errors
  • The verification function has different uses like nonstop supervision of sensor behavior, using a set of supervisory circuits or equipment executed within the sensor.
  • Lastly, the communication feature allows the sensor to converse to the main microcontroller/ microprocessor.

Smart Sensor Block Diagram

The block diagram of the smart sensor is shown below. This block diagram includes different blocks like sensing unit, signal conditioning, analog to digital conversion, application algorithms, local user interface, memory, and communication unit or transceiver.

Smart Sensor Block Diagram
Smart Sensor Block Diagram

Sensing Unit

This unit detects the changes in physical parameters & generates electrical signals equivalent to it. Signal

Conditioning Unit

The signal conditioning unit controls the signal to meet the necessities of next-level operations without losing data.

Analog to Digital Converter

ADC converts the signal from analog to digital format & sends it to the microprocessor.

Local User Interface

The local user interface or LUI is a panel-mounted device used to allow building operators to monitor & control system equipment.

Application Algorithm

The signals from smart sensors reach here & process the received data based on the application programs previously loaded here & generate output signals.


It is used to store media for saving received & processed data.

Communication Unit

The output signals from the application algorithm or microprocessor are transmitted to the main station through the communication unit. This unit also gets command requirements from the key station to execute specific tasks.

Types of Smart Sensor

There are different types of smart sensor available in the market which is explained below.

Level Sensors

A level sensor is one type of device used to monitor measure & maintain liquid levels. Whenever the level of liquid is sensed, this sensor changes the data into an electric signal.

Level Sensors
Level Sensors

Level sensors are classified into two types point level & continuous level. A point level sensor is used to specify whether a liquid has achieved an exact point within a container whereas continuous level type sensors are used to provide precise measurements for liquid level. These sensors are mainly used in different industries like automotive, manufacturing, and also in household applications.

Temperature Sensors

 Temperature sensors are used to measure temperatures like liquid temperature, air temperature, or solid matter temperature. These sensors are available in different types which use different principles to measure the temperature like RTDs, NTC thermistors, thermopiles & thermocouples. These sensors are mainly used in medical devices, computers, automobiles, cooking appliances & other types of machinery.

Temperature Sensor
Temperature Sensor

Pressure Sensors

A pressure sensor is a transducer that changes the mechanical pressure input into an electrical output signal. There are different types of pressure sensors available based on capacity, size, sensing technology, measurement method &output requirements. These sensors play a key role in monitoring pipelines & give an alert to overseers if there are any leaks otherwise irregularities so that they can repair or maintain pipelines.

Pressure Sensor
Pressure Sensor

Infrared Sensors

An infrared sensor is an electronic device used to emit light to detect some object in the surroundings and measures the object’s heat & detects the motion. Generally, all the objects will emit some form of thermal radiation within the IR spectrum which is invisible but the IR sensor can sense these radiations.

Infrared Sensor
Infrared Sensor

IR sensor includes a transmitter like an IR LED and receiver as an IR photodiode. For infrared transmission, three types of media are used vacuum, atmosphere & optical fibers. These sensors are used in night vision devices, radiation thermometers, IR tracking, IR imaging, etc.

Proximity Sensors

A smart sensor like a proximity sensor is used to notice the existence of objects in its surrounding area without contacting them. These sensors are frequently used in collision avoidance systems & collision warnings. This sensor uses light, sound, IR radiation otherwise electromagnetic fields to notice an object.

Proximity Sensor
Proximity Sensor

These sensors are applicable in consumer robotics, industrial applications and also utilized in vehicles to detect the physical contact of other vehicles & also for parking-assist functions

Air Quality Detection Sensors

Air quality detection sensors are electronic devices that are used to detect & monitor the air pollution within the air in the nearby area. So, these sensors efficiently work for indoor & outdoor purposes. Air quality sensors are capable of checking the CO2 concentrations through VOC (volatile organic compounds) that have methane & ammonia as gases.

Air Quality Detection Sensor
Air Quality Detection Sensor

Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are electronic devices, used to detect movement inside and surroundings of your home and give an alert. For instance, this sensor can activate the lights once it detects you while entering into a room otherwise, they can give an alert once an intruder is trying to enter your home. These types of sensors are mainly used in homes, security systems, paper towel dispensers, phones, virtual reality systems & game consoles.

Motion Sensor
Motion Sensor

Smart Plant Sensors

Plant sensors are advanced gardening sensors used to provide the data to the user from stem surface, leaf to root probes to feed the plants. They explain to us what nourishment and care are required for the plant.

Plant Sensor
Plant Sensor

This sensor is very simple to use by placing it into the soil of the plant pot beside the potted plant. After that, it monitors the level of moisture, light intensity, the temperature automatically to maintain the plant properly. The current plant sensors give an alert through smartphones to keep checking your plant’s condition remotely and take appropriate action.

Smart Climate Sensors

Smart climate sensors are used to gather the data of barometric pressure, temperature & humidity that assist in evaluating the exact weather conditions & calculate as well. These sensors will assist you in setting your plan accordingly because these sensors are connected through your Smartphone to send alerts throughout the frequent changes within the weather. These sensors are essential for gardening and are connected to smart irrigation systems.

Climate Sensor
Climate Sensor

Difference between Normal Sensor & Smart Sensor

The difference between a normal sensor and a smart sensor includes the following.


Smart Sensor

A sensor is a device used to detect the physical changing & chemical environment. The part of a sensor is known as a smart sensor that is used for the computer.
A sensor doesn’t include a DMP or digital motion processor. A smart sensor includes a DMP or Digital Motion Processor.
The normal sensor includes three components like sensor element, packaging & connections, and also signals processing hardware. Smart sensors include different components like amplifiers, transducers, analog filters, excitation control, and compensation sensors.
The different types of normal sensors are pressure, position, temperature, vibration, force, humidity & fluid property. The different types of smart sensors are electric current, level, humidity, pressure, proximity, temperature, heat, flow, etc.
Normal sensor output cannot be used directly because we should convert it into a usable format. The output of the smart sensor is ready to use.



Normal sensors are preferred when an engineer designing a device that requires complete control on sensor input


Smart sensors are generally preferred over base sensors because they include native processing capabilities.


Normal sensors are not expensive because they contain fewer components.


Smart sensors are expensive as compared to normal sensors.



The advantages of the smart sensor include the following.

  • These are small in size
  • These sensors are very easy to use, design & maintain
  • The performance level is higher
  • Speed of communication & reliability is higher due to the direct conversion with the processor.
  • These sensors can perform self-calibration & self-assessments.
  • These sensors can notice issues like switch failures, open coils & sensor contamination.
  • These sensors optimize manufacturing processes easily that need changes.
  • They can store many systems’ data.


The disadvantages of the smart sensor include the following.

  • Smart sensors’ reliability is one of the major drawbacks because if they are stolen or get damaged then they can affect a lot of systems badly.
  • It needs both sensors & actuators.
  • Sensor calibration has to be managed by an external processor.
  • High complexity in wired smart sensors, so the cost is also very high


The applications of the smart sensor include the following.

These sensors play a key role in monitoring different industrial processes like data collecting, measurement taking & transmitting the data to centralized cloud computing platforms wherever data is collected & analyzed for different patterns. So, this collected data can be simply monitored at any time by decision-makers.

Smart sensors are used mainly for monitoring & control mechanisms in different environments like water level & food monitoring systems, smart grids, traffic monitoring & control, environmental monitoring, conserving energy in artificial lighting, monitoring of the remote system, and fault diagnostics of equipment, transport & logistics, agriculture, telecommunications, industrial applications, animal tracking, etc.

Thus, this is all about an overview of a smart sensor and its working, block diagram, types, advantages, disadvantages, and applications. The most widely used smart sensors are; AWR1243, AWR1443, AWR1642, CC2650STK, etc. Here is a question for you, what are the different types of sensors used in automobiles?