Low-cost and non-invasive method for remote monitoring of deformations and displacements in a structure by means of wireless sensors

An ideal sensor is asked to have a miniaturized structure that allows the interrogation by distance without connection (wireless) which is extremely profitable for the traditional field of monitoring of works of art, as well as the architectural and archaeological heritage.

Title of the patent Method and system for remote monitoring deformations of a structure
Thematic area Electrical, electronic and information engineering
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna
Inventors Alessandra Costanzo, Vittorio Rizzoli, Andrea Benedetti
Protection Europe, USA
Licensing status Available for licensing agreement in specific sectors
Filed on May 04, 2007

The context of the invention is the monitoring of state of health of structures under stress (such as buildings, bridges or structural parts of means of transport or generic machinery) that is very interesting for the community to prevent collapses and disasters that always cause considerable losses of life.

Other field of application is the monitoring of deformation and displacement of parts of living organism (for example a muscle or a limb) or others. 

This patent describes a system to monitor displacement and deformations in structures, based on an array of antennas placed on the structure under stress to be monitored.

In particular, the interference between neighbouring electromagnetic transponders, usually seen as side effect, is used to measure their relative displacement, without using any mechanical or electrical sensor to be connected to the transponders.

To this end, the transponders, and in particular their radiating elements, are not treated as individual entities of a sensors’ network, but as an array of active antennas, and the radiated field varies both in form and in phase to vary the relative position of the elements.

The invention is substantially different from existing technologies and aims to overcome the drawbacks described above, guaranteeing at the same time and easy to use and cost-effective implementation.

The invention introduces the integrated electronics and consumer electronics in the control and passive mechanical and civil engineering.

The originality of the proposal, compared to many wireless sensor solutions already available, is the fact that in this case the sensor is at the same time the transmission system, as well as sensors are placed outside the structure to be monitored and are not susceptible to injuries that damage instead sensors placed inside the structures.