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Fiber-optic sensing solutions gaining prominence

By Max Burkhalter
February 4, 2013

Most of the discussions we have about fiber-optic cabling systems focus on the technology's use for telecom, data center and mobile network solutions. These are, in many ways, the primary usage model for optical networks. However, there are a few niche markets for fiber-optic cables that are gaining prominence, including fiber-optic sensing.

Considering optical cables for sensing
Imagine you are running a large airport in an extremely rural region. The airport doesn't get much traffic, it mostly serves industrial companies that ship heavy-duty materials to the area using large freight planes. Only a few craft take off or land on a given day, so a fairly small airport staff is needed. However, the nature of the airplanes using the facility is such that they need long runways, plenty of taxi space and a few warehouses. This kind of facility has to be extremely secure to protect customer assets, but it is extremely difficult to protect because it covers such a large tract of land. Building a fence around the property is a simple solution, but animals, vandals and serious criminals can break through a fence, leaving the airport vulnerable. You probably don't have the staff available to constantly control the perimeter and cameras are expensive, need power and have to be connected to the network.

This kind of usage scenario, which is not extremely uncommon, is a prime opportunity to install fiber-optic cabling systems equipped with sensors. In such a setting, the sensors on the cable can be programmed to identify movement or unusual conditions, such as a broken object in the area, and send an alert to security personnel who can check things out in person.

A recent LaserFocusWorld report said that advanced standards for optical cabling sensors has made the technology a prime option in a variety of sectors. For example, liquid and gas storage systems that cannot withstand any sort of leak can be protected by optical cables that sense problems and alert technicians. Similarly, many automobile industry and avionics systems can use the technology.

While these areas are ideal locations for optical sensing technology, they depend on media conversion.

Importance of media converters for optical sensing
Fiber to Ethernet media converters are necessary when supporting fiber-optic cable sensors. Such solutions work effectively when they can alert personnel about a problem and ensure a rapid response. This is only possible if the optical cable link is attached to a data network, making Ethernet connectivity a natural choice.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.



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