Sensors (Aug 2010)

A Universal Intelligent System-on-Chip Based Sensor Interface

  • Gabriele Ferri,
  • Barbara Mazzolai,
  • Virgilio Mattoli,
  • Alessio Mondini,
  • Paolo Dario

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 8
pp. 7716 – 7747


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The need for real-time/reliable/low-maintenance distributed monitoring systems, e.g., wireless sensor networks, has been becoming more and more evident in many applications in the environmental, agro-alimentary, medical, and industrial fields. The growing interest in technologies related to sensors is an important indicator of these new needs. The design and the realization of complex and/or distributed monitoring systems is often difficult due to the multitude of different electronic interfaces presented by the sensors available on the market. To address these issues the authors propose the concept of a Universal Intelligent Sensor Interface (UISI), a new low-cost system based on a single commercial chip able to convert a generic transducer into an intelligent sensor with multiple standardized interfaces. The device presented offers a flexible analog and/or digital front-end, able to interface different transducer typologies (such as conditioned, unconditioned, resistive, current output, capacitive and digital transducers). The device also provides enhanced processing and storage capabilities, as well as a configurable multi-standard output interface (including plug-and-play interface based on IEEE 1451.3). In this work the general concept of UISI and the design of reconfigurable hardware are presented, together with experimental test results validating the proposed device.