Substance of Life: How Water Quality Testing Interfaces with Embedded Computing

Published on:
June 25, 2013
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embedded computingOne of the most pressing matters within our world has to do with a substance that currently takes up more than half of our planet. We are surrounded by water, using it on a daily basis both for consumption and industry, and have a terrible track record when taking care of it. In the last forty years, there has been a major push to ensure that our oceans and water supplies are clean and free from pollution. This mentality has been adopted on an international scale, meaning that information must be collected and transmitted great distances from places that are often off the grid.

Here’s where embedded computing takes the process from a single researcher in the field to the wider scientific community in a flash. Embedded systems provide a link between in-the-field testing equipment and cataloguing and transmitting data through cellular or wi-fi signals. Water quality testing is a niche industry and has some very specific needs when it comes to the necessary equipment. An OEM distributor can definitely handle this demand, whether it means providing components to fit certain specifications or helping to design and prototype new devices.

Demands on Embedded Computing in the Testing Field

Understanding what researchers need in the field should be the first step when analyzing what direction to go in for designing embedded systems for that particular use. Their testing devices will be going not only out into the wild, but into environments that are not conducive to electronics. The whole “water + electricity = bad times” equation comes into play. It that sense, embedded systems should include:

  • embedded computingWaterproofing: Full submersion will probably not be in the cards for an embedded device. However, it should definitely be able to function in rain and other errant water sources.
  • Ruggedized enclosure: Field research and testing can be a rough and tumble job, and the equipment must follow suit. Having a strong, shock and drop resistant enclosure ensures that the device will last much longer.
  • Battery life: Power demands for embedded computing are not extraordinarily high, so design should be looking to capitalize on extra-long battery life, as the researching milieu may mean considerable distances between power sources for recharging.

Connectivity is Key in Embedded Computing

The main feature necessary for an embedded system in water testing has to be connectivity. Many of the actual testing devices hook into an embedded system via USB, an industry standard which is easy to implement. The more intensive side of connectivity lies in how to transmit that data to other people. Wi-fi is usually not available in remote field settings, so cellular networks that hook into cloud systems are key. Embedded computing can absolutely handle this issue, but must also incorporate the other demands of the industry.

New Era Electronics Brian LuckmanBrian Luckman is the President of New Era Electronics. He has worked in the industrial OEM market for over 25 years, serving a variety of different industries, gaining a strong reputation for his expertise and a thorough understanding of how to properly service OEM customers. In 2000 he began New Era Electronics and the company continues to grow. He’s a husband and father and enjoys exploring the outdoors.
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