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Definition

telemetry

Contributor(s): Neal Winters

Telemetry is the automatic measurement and wireless transmission of data from remote sources. In general, telemetry works in the following way: Sensors at the source measure either electrical data (such as voltage or current) or physical data (such as temperature or pressure). These measurements are converted to specific electrical voltages. A multiplexer combines the voltages, along with timing data, into a single data stream for transmission to a remote receiver. Upon reception, the data stream is separated into its original components and the data is displayed and processed according to user specifications.

In 1912, the first telemetrics application in Chicago used telephone lines to transmit operational data from a power plant to a central office. Because telemetry was originally used in projects like this, the first telemetry systems were called supervisory systems. In 1960, the interrogation-reply principle was developed, which allowed a more selective transmission of data upon request. At that time, a telemetry transmitter consisted of a set of measuring instruments, an encoder that translated instrument readings into analog or digital signals, a modulator, and a wireless transmitter with an antenna. The receiver consisted of an antenna, a set of radio-frequency (RF) amplifiers, a demodulator and recording devices. Mainframe computers were used to process and store the received information.

Today, telemetry applications include measuring and transmitting data from sensors located in automobiles, smart meters, power sources, robots and even wildlife in what is commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT).   

This was last updated in September 2005

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Re. "wireless transmission of data "  - This is not necessarily the case. The use of wireless tech. is simply a choice of technology. The application of any remote data read or read/write system can be loosely known as 'telemetry'. Even for water and other utilities, just as much data, if not more, still flow to and fro on both copper/fibre Ethernet based networks and serial industrial networks which possibly still outnumber the use of wireless transmission. This of course is changing as wireless gets faster and more ubiquitous. The "use of conversion of a signal to "specific electrical voltages" is also largely irrelevant since this is not really the case with instruments with their own Ethernet interface connnected to a copper wired (or wireless) broadband router, although of course these is a voltage and an analog signal is converted to a digital one in most cases.

SCADA and other data acquisition systems of all types use telemetry applications to read/update/control their data and systems at intervals - It really depends on what exactly we define as "the telemetry system."  Is it the whole package including the operator human interface (HMI), or is it merely the engineering of the transmission mechanisms which send and receives the data? True, most engineers will refer the to the transmision technologies and their configuration as telemetry, but those who deliver the package of works including the HMI and even a reports system may refer to their complete system as a telemetry solution.

Today, the use of secure wireless AP's and cellular broadband telecomms are in use for modern telemetry all over the world, as well as scanning radio, all of which would be encompassed within various telemetry systems engineers' expertise, as the principle true that the data are read by remote instrumentation, converted to a standardized network signal of some type, scaled (usually) and transmitted to a computer which may log the data and also display point data on a graph or other graphic.  At the most mundane, an application using cellular modems to access the power meters of tens of thousands of consumer units for a power company is a telemetry system.

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Are there any applications of that device in Food science? 
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