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NASA grants 4DSP licence for innovative sensing technology

07 June 2011

Austin, Texas based 4DSP has licenced signal processing technology from NASA that overcomes the inherent limitation found when deploying a certain type of fibre optic sensing system. The emergence of fibre optics sensors in recent years has seen a number of applications embrace this novel way of characterising the environment in harsh conditions. Engineers have, however, been confronted with severe processing-speed limitations that prevented the technology from becoming mainstream.

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center has developed an elegant, now patent-pending, system that increases processing speed 15 to 20 fold. NASA subsequently selected 4DSP, which specialises in high-speed and parallel reconfigurable systems, to develop a turnkey data acquisition and processing platform for its own use that incorporates the enabling technology. 4DSP now offers a proven fibre optic sensing system in a form factor that allows rapid deployment for a host of applications across multiple fields.

“The licensing of this NASA invention to 4DSP represents a major breakthrough and opens the door to widespread application of this remarkable sensing technology to a wide-variety of commercial sectors. The applications of the technology are limitless and have the potential to revolutionise structural design, testing, in-situ structural health monitoring, aeroelastic feedback control, and end-of-life cycle decision making, as well as many others yet to be discovered,” says W Lance Richards, aerospace research manager, at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

With the capability to monitor tens of thousands of sensors in real time at up to 100 times per second, this technology has the potential to overcome many limitations associated with fibre optic sensor systems. In addition to all the usual advantages of fibre optic sensing, such as reduced sensor size and weight, immunity to environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, electromagnetic radiation and corrosion, this technology provides an enormous number of high density sensors at higher sample rates, yielding a dramatically lower price per sensor for real-time monitoring applications. RTS150 is available off-the-shelf - more details can be found at here.

Originally developed for aircraft monitoring, this innovation also has applications in automotive, wind energy, and structural health monitoring as well as in medicine. 

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