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Temperature sensing and NFC (Near Field Communication)

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NFC technology is now entering industrial applications, with the PyroNFC non-contact infrared temperature sensor it easier than ever to get started with IR thermometry.

PyroNFC uses built-in NFC (Near Field Communications) to allow engineers to check measurements and adjust sensor settings on the production line, wirelessly, with their phone. Configuring and installing an IR temperature sensor is easier now than ever before.

Video guide for PyroNFC

 Why Infrared?

Modern infrared sensors provide 1°C accuracy, lightning-fast response times and full configurability in a low-cost device.  

The sensor works by detecting the intensity of the infrared radiation that is emitted by all objects as a result of their own temperature. The intensity signal from the detector is processed by the sensor’s electronics, before being converted to a useful temperature reading and transmitted as an output, in this case a linear voltage signal for factory automation and recording equipment. Because the sensor detects only the wavelengths that pass freely through air without absorption, the accuracy of the measurement is not affected by distance.

All this allows for a temperature measurement system with an accuracy equalling or exceeding that of a thermocouple, together with the benefit of faster response times. IR sensing is a great for hygienic temperature measurement as it is requires no contact, so is well suited to both pharmaceutical and food industry applications.

Why NFC?

Most IR temperature sensors need some level of configuration – this could be a basic adjustment, such as changing the emissivity setting for a more accurate reading on a different material, or it could be more advanced configuration, like compensating for the reflection of hot surfaces when measuring the temperature of a shiny object in a furnace. Sensors have traditionally needed an extra interface of some kind, usually a proprietary box with controls, or a USB converter and cable, but now there is no need for any of the added cost and complexity that brings.

Enter NFC, the technology behind contactless payment, ticketing, inventory control and now industrial applications.

With an NFC-enabled smartphone in your pocket, you can communicate directly with industrial sensors like the PyroNFC. The smartphone itself is the configuration interface, and the only preparation needed is to download a free app.

Easy to use screens for sensor configuration

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PyroNFC works straight from the box for basic measurements, however, if the temperature range on the voltage output needs to be re-scaled, or if you need peak hold processing to measure objects on a conveyor, the app lets you change those options.

Saving the settings to the sensor is simple, and anyone familiar with contactless payment will know straight away how it works. A tap of “Write to Sensor” in the app tells the phone to get ready to send the data, and touching the phone to the sensor actually transmits it. The whole process takes less than a second.

One of the beautiful things about NFC is how frustration-free it is to make a connection. There is no need for NFC devices to register with each other, as soon as they meet they communicate immediately as if they were old friends.

Another elegant thing is that the sensor does not need to be powered to read or write the settings. Entire batches of sensors can be configured immediately on the bench without connecting a single wire.

As well as reading and writing static settings in the sensor’s memory, the NFC chip in the sensor can communicate with its measurement electronics. With power connected, the sensor provides in-app temperature measurements while the phone is touching it, so you can walk the production line and check process temperatures without any extra instrumentation. This interactive capability is at the root of NFC developments in industry.

For the time being, the PyroNFC is only compatible with Android devices, with iPhone compatibility not too far away. 

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NFC is a technology that takes tedious, time-consuming tasks and makes them quick and easy, and the PyroNFC applies that principle to temperature measurement. Although its rugged design is intended for use in industry, the simple accessibility of NFC makes it ideal for the test bench, laboratory, and beyond.

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