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Economist Article discusses Present and Future of Smart Structures

A recent article in the Economist puts sensors, monitoring, wireless and intelligent infrastructure into the spotlight:

“Superstructures Engineering: Adding sensors and other devices to bridges, tunnels and buildings can turn them into “smart structures” capable of sensing and, in some cases, even responding to problems”

-- was published on December 9, 2010 and provides a great overview of the current state of the practice in structures monitoring:

To read the full article:

The article highlights some of the practical challenges associated with building and bridge monitoring and advances made to address these challenges. 

As with Factory Automation in the seventies and eighties and Wireless and Internet Commerce in the 90s, business and market needs combine with technology and engineering application to realize new approaches to traditional (manual) processes.  For example:

  • How many of you have ordered gifts for the holidays online, then tracked these orders to their delivery, including a barcode scan and digital signature at your front door?
  • When you ordered these gifts, did you make a phone call?
  • When was the last time you checked your tire pressure?  When you were reminded to bring your car in for service? 
  • Do you still have a land line?  Do you use it?  How many pay phones have you seen in the last month?
  • Do you still pay tolls or do you have some sort of EasyPass?  How about even slowing down to pay a toll?

Many of the above “standard practice” would have been considered exotic (or cost prohibitive) 10-15 years ago.  Relative cost (with respect to value and or benefit) drives adoption, and once something is cheap enough to automate, it will become automated.  Wireless and cellular is an excellent example and a required element in structural monitoring. 

Today, we are beginning to see sensors and remote monitoring/reporting in Utility Meters, Vending Machines, and Automobiles.  Soon, the cost of rugged sensors, “perpetual” power, and low power/easy to integrate wireless will make “Superstructures” the norm and not the exception.  In construction, the future is coming, slowly.

It is Smart Structures’ belief that the future of construction is in integrated wireless sensors that first streamline the construction process and then provide the added benefit of lifetime monitoring.   Sensors and structures monitoring will not be an afterthought, but an integral part of the construction process. 

The cost and safety benefits must first be demonstrated in order to accelerate the (construction) adoption process. That’s why energy savings is driving monitoring in the buildings market and why Smart Structures has taken a “bottoms up” approach… using sensors and wireless systems to save cost and time in the foundation construction process.

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Smart Structures Inc.
324 2nd Street Pike, Unit 13
Southampton,  PA   18966
267-983-6106 x601