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col: IEEE 802.15.4. This allows the sensor to provide license-free transmission up to 800 ft, which means it can be remotely controlled while installed.
Laboratory-centric wireless systems have yet to require this level of
sophistication in wireless technology. However, a number of systems that
are commonplace in modern laboratories do require the type of convenience and speed that 2.4-GHz wireless control can provide; and first and
foremost of these are passive systems for storage of samples and specimens.
Remote data collections
By far the most common wireless device in a research laboratory is the
wireless data collector. Typically acting as a temperature or environmental
gauge, data loggers can record ambient temperatures from -76 to 3,000 F
with the use of specialized probes. For laboratories where cryogenics, liquid nitrogen (LN2) and ultra-cold refrigerators are commonly used, wireless temperature data loggers are a must as they eliminate tiresome paper
or manually entered electronic records.
Specimen or sample storage must be closely monitored to prevent
loss of valuable data, and temperature loggers provide a useful record of
temperature history and fluctuations in equipment performance. It also
provides equipment malfunction alerts. And for LN2 tanks, they provide an element of safety.
TandD Corp., Santa Fe, N.M., is a leading manufacturer of environmental gauges for laboratory or industrial use, and their wireless products
include a wide variety of Wi-Fi-equipped loggers and data collection
Its latest temperature/humidity data logger, for instance, is supplied in two versions, one with Ethernet (TR-702) and one with Wi-Fi
(TR702NW, 802.11b/g). Both units have a temperature range of 0 to 55 C
and a humidity range of 10 to 95% RH.
These units automatically “push” reading and recorded data to a server
using ftp protocol. The reporting frequency and type can be set by the user.
A recent addition to the Wi-Fi capability is the introduction of an internal
Web server aboard these compact loggers. This allows direct reading of
current data and communication with TandD’s cloud-based WebStorage
Service. The data format conforms to TandD’s existing RTR-500 line of
temperature loggers, which has expanded into six different models.
Loggers typically feed their information into a data collector using a
standardized 915-MHz antenna. These antennas operate on a specified
wavelength to conform to FCC and FDA regulations governing communications in GMP and GLP laboratories.
Not every logger needs wireless connections; stationary loggers are
often wired directly to a LAN or PC via USB. But Wi-Fi use is common
for laboratory settings. In instances where environmental monitoring is
needed, a cellular network hub is often used. TandD’s loggers can accom-
modate SIM cards. The company also provides a wireless handheld data
collector in addition its line of stationary base stations.
A wide variety of temperature logger manufacturers means plenty of
choices for specialized applications. The Guardian from isensix, Temecula,
Calif., for example, provides ambient oxygen levels as well as relative humidity
and temperature, and is useful for monitoring both carbon dioxide and gel
Another temperature measurement product, the TempGenius, is
designed specifically around wireless monitoring. Used in a variety of
research settings, including diagnostics laboratories, forensics facilities
and biotechnology laboratories, the sensor is designed to be placed inside
equipment, taking readings at pre-set intervals. A data server works with the
logger to obtain and store readings. The server also checks readings against
pre-set acceptable ranges and can issue alerts if deviations are detected.
Manufactured by a Landover, Md., company of the same name, TempGenius can, in addition to incubator, freezer, and heat block monitoring,
be installed in cryogenic storage or anaerobic chambers. It can also monitor light intensity, barometric pressure and differential pressure.
Part of the attraction to this system is its ability to scale in a manner similar to RFID, yet it’s also ISO-accredited and NIST-traceable. A theoretically
unlimited number of wireless TempGenius sensors can be used in conjunction with the data server to gather readings. It’s also relatively inexpensive
because it uses well-established frequencies such as Wi-Fi 802.11, 900 MHz
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s (Billerica, Mass.) Smart-Vue system goes
a step further by gathering an even greater range of readings, including
current measurements and dry contact state. Designed for controlled
environment use, Smart-Vue modules operate at 915 MHz and offer audit
trail traceability assists with conformance to 21 CFR part 11 and other
regulatory requirements typical to pharmaceutical production, biotechnology tasks and diagnostic laboratories.
The modules, which feature a digital readout, are matched with a 500-
m W receiver and paired with specialized client server software. A key
feature of the system is the Service Discovery Protocol that enables each
module to send a signal to the receiver without interruption by finding the
most efficient communication path based on RF signal strength. A separate plug-in module also communicates with the system to provide alerts.
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