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5 Things to Know About Fibre Optic Sensing

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS) technology making strides.
  2. Path Breaking Use Cases for Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS).

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

How FOS is Beyond Just Optical Fibre?

While fibre optics is the future of data connectivity, these silicon tubes wrapping the planet, are capable of more than what anyone can imagine. It will not just transition us to a buffer-free internet experience, but its intrinsic Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS) technology is making strides to change the way this world spins.

Its multi-parameter sensing, microsecond data monitoring and wide reach, is not just about photonics and material science, but is a whole new range of application based solutions.

Here are five ways in which FOS will change the course of the future.

What are Some Path Breaking Use Cases for Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS)?

  1. Tackling global calamities to save millions of lives

Rising number of natural disasters pose direct threat to millions of lives. A lot of technological innovations are happening to help prepare before the disaster strikes. But, FOS will become the one stop solution to handle these calamities. Its high sensitivity can detect vibrations and give accurate alerts of any natural calamities originating thousands of kilometres away, giving ample amount of time to take proactive measures and save lives. It can track any geological hazards including landslides, earthquakes, slumps, sinkholes and even changes in hazardous gases in the environment. This can be easily done at no extra cost by utilising the dark fibres already embedded across the world.

2. Critical infrastructure security for defence establishments

Critical establishments that run across international borders like air bases, army cantonments, naval bases need constant monitoring against any kind of intrusion or attacks. Fibre Optic Sensing Technology can provide multi-layered protection to the establishments with a full suite of security applications. Customised solutions coupled with intelligent applications can create truly intrusion-proof establishments.

3. “Set and forget” reliability for machines of industry 4.0

Many industries rely on manual checks of each and every machine. FOS will soon become the technology of choice in an array of industries to give accurate and direct monitoring of data every millisecond, giving it the “set-it-and-forget” reliability. It will be an optimal solution for industry 4.0 applications.

4. Building next-gen urban infrastructure

Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS) will create the blueprint on which the smart cities will be built. Fibre backbone will collect data, assess patterns of inefficiencies in city planning and make smart decisions to improve living standards. For instance, smart grids across the city can communicate with each other to conserve energy in places that do not need it and divert it to areas that need more power. Fibre optic networks with acoustic sensors will monitor road and public transport routes to recognise and detect seismic data generated by vehicles to help manage traffic load in cities, highways and freeways.

5. Unattended situational awareness for driving business outcomes

Fibre optic-based pipeline monitoring technology can detect acoustics, temperature and vibration across every centimetre, in real time, giving companies the ability to limit site visits and reduce operational costs. This will be of critical importance in industries like oil & gas where leakage of pipelines can lead to environmental damage, loss of product and loss of life. FOS technology establishes real-time functioning and tracking of pipelines where every leak can be addressed immediately minimising hazardous situations like oil spills in oceans; gas leak in remote locations or populated areas and monitoring rigging activities etc.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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