Structural Health Monitoring

Weightless technology demonstration in a structural health monitoring system


Weightless technology used in a structural health monitoring system was demonstrated at the 5th Future of Wireless International Conference which took place on 1st & 2nd of July at The Møller Centre in Cambridge, UK.

For BBC1 coverage of the event and Weightless technology, click here (Members only)

Bridge_demo_webcopy_1.jpg [original]

click image above for video

In the demonstration, a model bridge equipped with strain gauges sensing displacement in the bridge structure are connected to a pre-qualified Weightless terminal device measuring 115mm x 60mm x 30mm built into the bridge structure. This communicates over a Weightless air interface to a base station that could be sited several kilometres from the bridge. In this demonstration a user application processes the data to determine when the parameters measured by the sensors integrated into the bridge structure fall outside of expected values to warn of potential structural problems such as metal fatigue and degradation. A video showing the demonstration is available here.


Bridge_Demo_webcopy_2.jpg [original]

click image above for video

Weightless is a wireless Standard developed explicitly to support machine communications of exactly the type required for structural health monitoring systems. The protocol supports the efficient communication of small amounts of data transmitted infrequently over a distance of several km and running on regular low cost primary cells for up to ten years. It typically operates in wireless spectrum with exceptionally good signal propagation characteristics which enables data to be reliably communicated through physical structures far more efficiently than Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G etc technologies. It also permits signals to be transmitted over a significantly greater range - several kilometers - than LAN technologies and so does not require the use of data concentrators  and additional connectivity technology to enable remote monitoring systems. It is low cost - a terminal typically costing less than USD$10. Network costs are low with license free TV white space spectrum and terminals need no SIM card. Maintenance costs are low through fit and forget battery powered terminals with a lifetime determined by the shelf life of the batteries - good quality alkaline primary cells (2 x regular AA cells) will power a Weightless terminal device for ten years under normal operating conditions.


Weightless technology offers compelling competitive advantages for machine to machine communications and is especially appropriate for large numbers of small, low cost sensors of the type demonstrated by these types of applications. With a cost of less than USD$10 per terminal device, great signal propagation characteristics, a range of several kilometres and a battery life measured in years the Weightless Standard enables the 95% of the Internet of Things market that alternative wireless technologies cannot commercially address and that are widely expected to require tens of billions of connections over the coming years.


Click here for more information about structural health monitoring.

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