Sensor interface chips are used as interfaces to sensors and other devices. The input at the interface collects data from the sensor and the output of the interface sends the data to a computer or other suitable device. IC is an acronym for integrated circuit. Sensor interface chips are integrated circuits (IC) that may also provide signal compensation and temperature correction in a variety of sensors. A sensor interface IC chip is used in many industries, including automotive, robotics, manufacturing, and medical applications.
Sensor interface chips may be used in many types of sensors and sensing devices, including accelerometers, strain gauges, piezoresistive pressure sensors, load cells, thermistors, and other bridge-type sensors. Sensor interface and excitation IC chips are often self-calibrating, which enables them to get high accuracy data from sensors that may not be ideal. Basic sensor interface chips typically include sensor-excitation circuitry, a programmable gain amplifier, and an analog output. Other types of sensor interface chips include other components, such as digital-to-analog converters (DAC), analog-to digital converters (ADC), electrically-erasable programmable read-only memory chips (EEPROMs), and other components to manage temperature drift. A sensor IC chip also can perform signal conditioning such as gain and offset adjustment and linearity correction.
Sensor interface chips that are used in automation systems typically use an actuator sensor interface (AS-i) protocol for industrial networking. The AS-interface (AS-i) is a network system for the lower field range of the automation level. It is suitable for networking binary actuators and sensors. The use of a special integrated circuit (IC) allows AS-i to be integrated with small devices in a cost-effective manner. The AS-i protocol is an effective alternative to hard wiring devices, since sensors and actuators are connected to the manufacturing machinery with one cable. This protocol is used in a multitude of automated machinery, such as elevators and conveyors, production lines, luggage carousels, and process control valves. The AS-i protocol is particularly useful in a sensor interface chip that controls safety or emergency stop mechanisms.