Measurement trends survey shows need for greater speed and resolution

Engineers appear to want more performance than ever before from the tools they use, a recent survey from Keithley Instruments indicates.


Engineers appear to want more performance than ever before from the tools they use, a recent survey from Keithley Instruments indicates. The annual study, the fourth conducted by the Cleveland- based manufacturer, charts trends and market needs for measurement products and technologies used by engineers. Nearly 800 respondents participated in this year's survey.

The most dramatic increases in performance were for speed and resolution requirements. The number of respondents needing more than 1000 readings/ sec rose from 19% to 31% of the market. Even more significant, those requiring 18 to 19+ bit resolution today more than doubled, from 7% last year to 18% this year. This tremendous increase in requirements for speed and resolution, the company reports, clearly indicates that new products and processes require more measurements be performed more rapidly and with greater precision.

Interestingly, the study showed little change in remote measurement and data acquisition use, with 18% reporting that they obtain data from sensors outside the plant. Last year, the number was 19%. The study concluded that it appears even though people are drawn to the concept of Ethernet or internet-based measurements, in reality they are still difficult and relatively expensive to perform.

In another area, despite its expected and anticipated demise, the serial bus is still popular. Use has actually increased 10 points from 2-yr ago to 81%. However, rapid adoption of the USB protocol is still anticipated and current use has more than doubled to 15% in 1999 from 7% in 1998. Although Firewire, the other popular protocol, has not climbed into double-digit use as yet, engineers are still optimistic about its eventual acceptance.

When asked about operating systems and programming languages, respondents voted in favor of open solutions based on Microsoft tools. The market appears to be moving rapidly from Windows 95 to NT/2000. Visual Basic and C/C++ are the dominant software languages.

Copies of the survey may be downloaded from the company's web site at whats_new/whatsnew.html. Or contact Keithley at 28775 Aurora Rd., Cleveland, OH 44139-1891; phone: 440-248-0400; fax: 440-248-6168.

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