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Jos Rivera-Meja, Mariano Carrillo-Romero, and Gilberto Herrera-Ruiz

Self-Compensation to Build Reconfigurable Measurement Systems

ntelligent sensors are the core components of reconfigurable measurement systems (RMS). The intelligent sensor s generic functions are compensation, processing, communication, validation, integration and data fusion. Their design involves using self-adjustment (or compensation) algorithms for eliminating or at least diminishing major types of error, such as offset, gain variation, and non-linearity, with good accuracy [1]. In addition, the design must make the readjustment process as simple as possible [2]. A methodology for designing intelligent sensors with selfcompensation which can be reconfigured to measure any variable is presented in this paper. Additionally, we analyze several compensation techniques using numerical algorithms and one based on artificial neural networks theory. The methodology is applied to reconfigure intelligent sensors for temperature and distance measurements.

It does not matter if the voltage is linear or non-linear, because the intelligent part of the sensor will be able to fix such problems as linearity, offset, gain, etc., using a microcontroller (C), a digital signal processor (DSP), or a field programmable gate array (FPGA). A digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is provided to drive an actuator. Some compensation methods are explained in the next section. To perform the reconfiguration and to endow the sensor with the capability of measuring any variable, compensation methods should be implemented at the sensors intelligent part.

Common Errors Affecting a Sensing Element

The ideal response for the vast majority of sensing elements is a straight line as Fig. 2a shows. Errors occur in sensing elements for several reasons. It is not possible to produce large numbers of parts all having identical performance. Realizable parts require some manufacturing tolerance with respect to their nominal (or ideal) behavior. The actual transfer function of a realizable sensing element could be subject to any of the following errors: Gain error. The slope of the transfer function departs from the nominal value. Within its operation range, the sensing element has incorrect sensitivity or scale factor (Fig. 2b). Non-linearity error. The sensing elements output does not change in a linear way with respect to the input signal (Fig. 2c). Offset error. In a linear sensor, zero input should produce zero output, called the offset error (Fig. 2d). Offset error is especially troublesome in sensors capable of dc or near dc response. Cross sensitivity error. The output of some sensing elements responds to parameters other than the variable it was designed to measure, for example, temperature (Fig. 2e).

Intelligent Sensors
Although the definitions of smart and intelligent sensors have not been widely accepted, IEEE 1451.21997 defines a smart sensor as: a sensor that provides functions beyond those necessary for generating a correct representation of a sensed or controlled quantity [1], [3]. Such functions typically simplify the sensors integration into applications in a network environment [4]. The intelligence in a sensor could be associated with functionalities performed by the sensor, such as compensation [1], [5]. This feature allows reconfiguration of an intelligent sensor to measure any variable. Accuracy will be associated with the sensing element and the compensation method. To clarify this idea, Fig. 1 shows a block diagram of a reconfigurable intelligent sensor. The sensing element is any traditional sensor with the signal conditioning necessary to obtain output voltage. This voltage, which typically is within the range 0 to 5 volts (or from 0 to 3 volts at low power consumption) is supplied to an analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

Acknowledgement: The authors thank the Instituto Tecnolgico de Chihuahua, Mexico, FOMIX-Chihuahua (Project No. CHIH-2009-C01-116741) and PROMEP (Project No. ITCH-EXB-001) for their financial support of this work.

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Fig. 1. Reconfigurable intelligent sensor architecture.

Hysteresis error. Hysteresis expresses the notion that the output is influenced by the previous history or path of the input signal: Typically, a sensing element with hysteresis error responds differently to low-to-high and high-to-low input transitions (Fig. 2f).

Drift error. The sensing element transfer function varies with time. Most of the time it is caused by wear in the sensor or aging (Fig. 2g). Because of these errors, measurement systems should be individually calibrated to maintain and guarantee accuracy.

Fig. 2. Possible errors in the transfer function of the sensing element. (a) Ideal response of the sensing element. (b) Gain error. (c) Non-linearity error. (d) Offset error. (e) Cross sensitivity error. (f) Hysteresis error. (g) Drift error by aging of the sensing element.
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These types of systematic errors are present from the design phase. As an example, Fig. 3a shows a temperature sensing element composed of a negative temperature coefficient thermistor. In this case, the thermistor is part of a voltage divider in which the output voltage V0 is defined by: ,

variables qi and the sensing elements output voltage V0, preferably in the range [0,1], using the following equations: (3) and



where Vcc is the voltage power supply, R1 is the resistance connected in series with the thermistor RT, R0 is the resistance of the thermistor at temperature T0, and T is the temperature we wish to measure. The thermistor features are R0 = 10,000 at T0 = 25 C and = 4,100 10%. Fig. 3b shows the output voltage of the voltage divider evaluated by Monte Carlo simulation assuming a sample of 1000 circuits in which the sensing element is at 50 C, the resistor R1 = 6,200 5% and Vcc = 5 V 1%. Note that the output voltage has a variation from 3.1 to 3.35 V. This example presents two errors: first, non-linearity due to the thermistors response (Fig. 3a), and second, the offest error due to manufacture tolerance of the thermistor R and the power supply, (note the possible variation of V0 due to the offset error (Fig. 3b). The following section will explain algorithms to fix these problems and how to build a reconfigurable sensor.

After normalization, (2) can be rewritten as: v = f(x). Now, the desired output signal is a straight line with unitary slope. This is the goal of the compensation process. The reference signal is defined by [5] as: (5) Now, the sensor signal is ready to apply to any compensation algorithm. Fig. 4 shows the compensation process; the output signal of the compensation algorithm is the function y, and it is defined in [6] as: (6) Finally, to evaluate the compensation process, the non-linearity relative error (NLE) can define how straight the function y is. It is evaluated by: (7) The maximum acceptable value of r is 1% using a minimum quantity of readjustment points.

The Compensation Process

Before studying compensation methods, we present a compensation process which can be used to build reconfigurable intelligent sensors. The output voltage in response to a measured variable of the sensing element can be defined as: (2) where qi is the variable to be measured, and V0 is the output voltage of the sensing element, which is a function of qi. Normalization is recommended to simplify and generalize the process of information handling for any variable and any measurement range. Normalization is performed on the input

Techniques or Algorithms for Compensation

Compensation is based on linearization techniques used to fix problems like offset, gain, non-linearity and drift errors. When the compensation method is chosen, it is important to consider the number of readjustment points N and the

Fig. 3. A simple temperature sensors output. (a) Thermistor in a voltage divider and the dividers output voltage at temperatures from 0 C to 100 C. (b) Output voltage simulated from 1000 circuits at 50 C.

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with from 3575 to 4500 C, is between 13% and 23%, as Fig. 3 shows. The Sharp GP2Y0A02YK infrared sensor, which measures the distance to an object, has 46.7% of MPNRE. 2. Use the following equation to simulate the sensing element response:
Fig. 4. The compensation process.

maximum acceptable NLE as in (7). Maintenance of the measurement system will be less expensive if the compensation method requires few readjustment points to reach a NLE less than 1%. Later, we present the quantitative comparison between four compensation algorithms. Three of these algorithms are considered numerical methods: piecewise linear interpolation, the polynomial progressive method [7] and [8], and an improved polynomial progressive method [5]. The other is an artificial neural network method (ANNM) [9]. The four methods were simulated and a quantitative evaluation of its performance was executed. Using the generated information and two different sensors, the compensation methods were selected and programmed in a microcontroller for real measurement of two variables. Based on the adjustment process of measuring systems described in the Vocabulary International of Metrology (ISO IEC (VIM), 9:2007) [10], N readjustment points from the measurement range of the sensor are chosen and called the readjustment vector, qi. The readjustment vector is supplied to the sensing element, and the output signal is recorded to generate the vector V0. Using (3) and (4), the signals are normalized in the range of [0,1] to get x(i) = [x1,x2,,xN] and v(i) = [v1,v2,,vN] for i = 1 to N. The ideal output for each point is defined by (5), t(i) = [t1,t2,, tN]. The x, v, and t vectors will be used for the compensation methods. In the case of the artificial neural network topology, the size of the matrix depends on the neural network topology and is independent of the number of readjustment points used to train the neural network.


Evaluating Compensation Efficiency

Selecting the best compensation method is a challenging task which has generated a large body of literature. We have found little quantitative information after reviewing the literature, and procedures to select the optimal readjustment points necessary to reach the desired accuracy are not well established. To select the best compensation method, we follow this process [6]: 1. Simulate the sensing element response. The most important information needed for this step is to define or determine the maximum percentage of non-linearity relative error (MPNRE) of the sensing element. The MPNRE is the maximum value obtained by comparison of the output sensing element with the straight line, which is divided by the measurement range. The MPNRE could be obtained from the data sheet sensor or by a practical way. For example, a K type thermocouple in the range from 0 to 1000 C has 0.6% MPNRE. The MPNRE of thermistors
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whereV0 is the simulated output voltage of the sensing element, qi is the input variable of the sensing element, and m is the variable to control the non-linearity grade of (8) in computing the MPNRE of V0. For example, with values of qi between 1 and 100 and m between 1 and 95, the MPNRE of V0 will be between 94.3% and 12%, as Fig. 5 shows. 3. Evaluate the method response using different quantities of readjustment points. 4. Taking into consideration the computational demand, the MPNRE, and the number of readjustment points, compare the results, and choose the most advantageous method. The performance comparison between the piecewise linear interpolation method, polynomial progressive method, improved polynomial progressive method (IPPM), and the ANNM was computed using N = 5, 6, 7, and 8 readjustment points and Fig. 6 shows the results. The x-axis represents the maximum non-linearity of the sensing element and the y-axis represents the maximum non-linearity in the output of the compensation methods. For example, in Fig. 6a, using five readjustment points, the piecewise method can fix non-linearity problems under 15% with error less than 0.01. Table 1 summarizes the quantitative comparison between these compensation methods. This helps the designer select the best compensation method for any particular situation. As mentioned above, the user needs to know only the MPNRE in the sensing element. The method providing the greatest range meeting the 1% MPNRE target is seen to be the ANNM because it can fix problems of maximum non-linearity up to 56.6%, (shown on the x-axis with the input as the maximum

Fig. 5. Simulation response of (8).

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Compensation results using N=5

101 101

Compensation results using N=6


100 100

10-1 10-1 Piecewise Polynomial IPPM ANNM 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 10-2 15 20 25 30 35 40 Piecewise Polynomial IPPM ANNM 45 50 55

(a) Compensation results using N=7


(b) Compensation results using N=8





10 10



Piecewise Polynomial IPPM ANNM 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55



10-3 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Piecewise Polynomial IPPM ANNM 55 60 65

Maximum % of non-linearity error of the input (c) (d)

Maximum % of non-linearity error of the input

Fig. 6. Results of quantitative evaluation using different amounts of readjustment points in the compensation methods. (a) N = 5, (b) N = 6, (c) N = 7, and (d) N = 8.

nonlinearity of the uncorrected sensor) and improve its performance if the number of readjustment points increases, but it would take time to train and program the reconfigurable part. The training can be done off line. The improved polynomial progressive method with seven readjustment points can fix problems of maximum non-linearity up to 45.5%, but a special process to choose the best order of readjustment points is required.

The piecewise and polynomial methods have similar performance with N = 5, 6, and 7 readjustment points, as can be noted in Table 1. The piecewise method has better performance compared to the polynomial method if eight readjustment points are used. The polynomial method is not recommended with more than seven readjustment points because oscillations are present around the solution. Some authors call this the over fitting effect [5]. It is recommended to use the algorithm with the lowest quantity of readjustment points beTable 1 Comparison results of compensation methods cause its calibration cost will be computationally MPNRE that can be fixed less expensive. Quantity of by the compensation method readjustment Artificial Example of the Selection Improved points (N) Piecewise Polynomial Neural and Use of Compensation Polynomial Network Algorithms N=5 15.4% 21.4% 25.0% 33.8% To show the selection and use of compensation alN=6 23.3% 25.5% 37.4% 42.9% gorithms based on the information presented in N=7 33.0% 30.1% 45.5% 53.1% Fig. 7a, the simulation of (8) is shown with qi in the N=8 38.4% 32.2% 35.5% 56.6% range of 0 to 100 and m = 50. The V is nonlinear


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Fig. 7. An example of a compensation signal. (a) The sensors signal simulated with (8). (b) Nonlinearity evaluated with (7).

and if its response is compared with a straight line, the MPNRE is 23.51%. Using (3) and (4), the response is normalized. Five points were selected to make the compensation and are denoted by an asterisk in Fig. 7a. Normalization yields the following matrices: x(i) = [0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0], v(i) = [0, 0.442, 0.724, 0.896, 1.0], and the ideal output t(i) = [0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0]. Fig. 7b shows the results. The relative error that will be obtained after the compensation algorithms can be seen in Fig. 6. If the piecewise or polynomial progressive method is used, the error obtained will be more than 1%, but if the IPPM or ANNM is used, the error will be less than 1%. Fig. 8 shows the output of the compensation algorithms. The output of the four algorithms is almost a straight line. The relative error is computed using (6) and Fig. 8b shows its result. As previously anticipated, error below 1% was reached with IPPM and ANNM. Using the straight line equation, the real measured values can be recovered. The output of the compensation algorithms approximate to a straight line as shown

in Fig. 8a. For this example, the real measured values can be recovered by multiplying the x- and y-axes by 100.

Example of Reconfigurable Measurement Systems

Since the principles or bases needed to build reconfigurable systems have been established, some application examples are discussed next. Real applications sometimes require only measurement or monitoring of the process variables. In this case, the topology shown in Fig. 9a could be used. On the other hand, the topology shown in Fig. 9b would be used for many closed-loop measurement and control processes. The ADC will be selected according to the required resolution. If a microcontroller is used in the reconfigurable part, many options are available because microcontrollers with eight and ten bits ADC can be found easily. If greater resolution is required, it often will be necessary to use an external ADC. Another important item is the selection of a communication protocol to provide network connection capability.

Fig. 8. Output of the compensation algorithms. (a) The signal compensated y. (b) The percent of relative error.
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Fig. 9. An intelligent sensor to build reconfigurable measurement systems. (a) A reconfigurable measurement system. (b) A reconfigurable measurement and control system.

Today, intelligent sensors can be interconnected by wires or wirelessly, and suitable devices are available for network protocols such as: J1850, Control Area Network, LongTalkTM, Ethernet, etc. Table 2 shows some examples of some of these semiconductors. Fig. 10 shows an example of reconfigurable measurement system network using Control Area Network (CAN) as the communication protocol. This reconfigurable measurement system can be monitored by a computer using CAN to a Universal Series Bus converter, CAN to an Ethernet converter, or CAN to a Wi-Fi converter. Fig. 11 shows an example of a measurement system with one or more reconfigurable intelligent sensors with a wireless interconnection. Communication can be established between all of the elements, and a remote converter-to-network can be used. The required converter is determined by the protocol used by the network to USB or Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Communication between the reconfigurable intelligent sensors could be made with Bluetooth or ZigBee protocols. Many options are available for Bluetooth, such as converters from serial-toBluetooth and Bluetooth-to-USB. Wireless networks, can be

built using many commercially available modules like XBZAACI-001 from Digi International Inc. with ZigBee protocol that can be easily incorporated with any microcontroller, DSP or FPGA, and will provide wireless interconnection capability. Clearly, the trend is to use wireless interconnections and more hardware, which makes the development of measurement systems easier. The architectures that have been presented are for general reconfigurable measurement systems with appropriate sensing elements to monitor any variable. Fig. 12 shows N intelligent sensors interconnected across CAN for general cases. The sensors are monitored by personal computer connected by wire or Wi-Fi to the Internet, and the variables can be monitored with any device with Ethernet connection. In the next section, we will give some specific measurement examples.

Examples of Reconfigurable Measurement Sensors

Fig. 13 shows the reconfigurable intelligent sensor topology using the compensation functionality of intelligent sensors. We now describe how the measurement system with the proper sensing element is reconfigured to measure temperature or distance. The reconfigurable part was built with C part number PIC18F2680, whose main features are: eight 10-bit

Table 2 Some semiconductors with protocols that provide wired or wireless network interconnection
Part No MC68HC705V8 M68HC05/ MC68HC05X16 MC143150/ MC1431120 MPC555 68HC08AS32A ATmega32c1 DS80C410 PIC18F2680 PIC18f2480 dsPIC32FJ256GP710 PIC18F97J60 Manufacturer FreescaleTM FreescaleTM FreescaleTM FreescaleTM FreescaleTM Atmel Maxim Microchip Microchip Microchip Microchip Protocol J1850 CAN 2.0B LonTalkTM CAN 2.0B J1850 CAN 2.0B Ethernet y CAN 2.0B CAN 2.0B CAN 2.0B CAN 2.0B Ethernet

Fig. 10. Reconfigurable measurement system with CAN 2.0B.

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Fig. 11. A reconfigurable measurement system with a wireless interconnection.

ADC channels, 40 MHz of maximum frequency clock, 64 KB flash memory, and CAN2.0B communication.

than five readjustment points. To illustrate the capability of compensation methods, temperature will be measured by a thermistor. This device is very inexpensive and there are different sizes. It is widely used, although it has high non-linearity from 13% to 23% for from 3575 to 4500 C. In this design, a thermistor was used as the sensing element to measure temperature from 0 C to 100 C, as Fig. 3a shows with features of = 4500 10% and R0 = 10,000 at 25 C. The MPNRE is 23%. Reviewing the information from Table 1, compensation can be accomplished by any of the compensation methods. Six readjustment points will be required for most of the techniques already discussed, but only five readjustment points will be required if the ANNM is selected. The qi selected with six readjustments points was qi = [0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100], and the output voltage of sensing element was V0 = [1.31, 2.50, 3.52, 4.16, 4.55, 4.69]. The ANNM in [9] was used, and after training the compensation algorithm using the neuron models purelin and logsig it is:

Temperature Measuring
Semiconductors, thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors (RTDs), and thermistors are the most common devices used to measure temperature. The proper device will be selected depending on the measurement range. Compensation of semiconductors, thermocouples, and RTDs can be implemented with any compensation method using less

The performance of the piecewise linear interpolation method, the polynomial progressive method, IPPM, and ANNM were compared with the target straight line,

Fig. 12. Reconfigurable measurement system with CAN connected to the Internet and monitored from any device with a wire or wireless Ethernet connection.
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Fig. 13. Example of reconfigurable intelligent sensor for measurement of temperature or distance.

and Fig. 14 shows the results. From the four methods, the MPNRE is less than 1%. Any of those four methods could be used to build a reconfigurable intelligent sensor to measure temperature using a thermistor as the sensing element with any value and regardless of a temperature coefficient that is either positive or negative. The compensation algorithm will fix these errors.

The ANNM from [9] was used and after training was:

Distance Measuring
To illustrate how the reconfigurable intelligent sensor can be used to measure distance, the sensing element was replaced by an infrared device, GP2Y0A02YK manufactured by Sharp, to measure the distance to an object. The range was 20 cm to 150 cm, and it produced a dc voltage between 2.6 and 0.4 V, and has a MPNRE of about 46.7%. Reviewing the information on Table 1, the methods that can solve this error are the IPPM and the ANNM with seven readjustments points. The qi selected was: qi = [20, 42, 63, 85, 106, 128, 150] to build a distance meter from 20 cm to 150 cm. The output voltage of the sensing element was: V0 = [2.73, 1.29, 0.86, 0.63, 0.51, 0.47, 0.36].

The outputs of the IPPM and ANNM were compared with the target straight line, and Fig. 15 shows the results. The MPNRE from the two methods is less than 1%, and either of them can be used to build a reconfigurable intelligent sensor. As these two examples demonstrate, the end user is only required to select one of several possible compensation methods according to the maximum permissible non-linearity percentage error as measured at the sensor output.

This paper presented a methodology based on compensation methods to build reconfigurable measurement systems. The quantitative comparison of several popular methods

Fig. 14. Results of non-linearity error compensation methods for reconfigurable intelligent sensor to measure temperature.

Fig. 15. Results of IPPM and ANNM non-linearity error compensation of a reconfigurable intelligent sensor to measure distance.
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was shown to illustrate the selection of a computationally efficient compensation method. Using the methodology described here, the user only needs to know the maximum percentage of non-linearity in the sensing element and the desired amount of non-linearity error that can be tolerated in the intelligent sensors output signal. This information allows selection of the compensation method and the number of readjustment points. With this approach, a critical part of the intelligent sensor is reusable and may be used in wired or wireless reconfigurable measurement systems.

and Calibration, Norwell, MA, USA: Kluwer Academic Publisher, ISBN 0-7923-8004-5, 1998. [8] J. Schoukens, J. G. Nmeth, G. Vandersteen, R. Pintelon and P. Crama, Linearization of nonlinear dynamics systems, IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas., vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 12451248, Aug. 2004. [9] M. J. Rivera, R. M. Carrillo, M. M. Chacn, R.G. Herrera, and D. G. Bojorquez, Self-calibration and optimal response in intelligent sensors design based on artificial neural networks, Sensors, vol. 7, pp. 15091529, Aug. 2008, ISSN 1424-8220.

The authors thank the students of the Instituto Tecnolgico de Chihuahua instrumentation and control laboratory in 2011 for their help.

[1] S. Mekid, Further structural intelligence for sensors cluster technology in manufacturing, Sensors, vol. 6, pp. 557577, June 2006. [2] ISO/ IEC, International vocabulary of metrology Basic and general concepts and associated terms (VIM), ISO/IEC GUIDE 99:2007(E/F). [Online] Available: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/ catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=45324. [3] IEEE Standard for a Smart Transducer Interface for Sensors and Actuators Transducer to Microprocessor Communication Protocols & TEDS Formats, IEEE Std 1451.2 1997, IEEE Xplore. [Online] Available: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue. jsp?punumber=5839. IEEE Standard for a Smart Transducer Interface for Sensors and Actuators Transducer to Microprocessor Communication Protocols & TEDS Formats. [4] R. Frank, Understanding Smart Sensors. Norwood, MA, USA: Artech House, ISBN 0-89006-311-7, 2000. [5] M. J. Rivera, R. G. Herrera, M. M. Chacn, P. Acosta and R. M. Carrillo, Improved progressive polynomial algorithm for selfadjustment and optimal response in intelligent sensors, Sensors, vol. 8, pp. 74107427, Nov. 2008. [6] M. J. Rivera, R. M. Carrillo, and R. G. Herrera, Quantitative evaluation of self-compensation algorithms applied in intelligent sensors, Proc 2010 IEEE International Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference, Austin, TX, USA. ISSN-10915281/ ISBN 978-1-4244-2833-5. pp. 36, May 2010. [7] G. Van der Horn and J. L. Huijsing, Integrated Smart Sensors Design

Jos Rivera-Meja (jrivera@itchihuahua.edu.mx) received the M.S. degree from the Instituto Tecnolgico de Chihuahua, Mexico in 1979 and the Dr. Eng. Degree from the Universidad Autnoma de Quertaro, Mexico in 2008. From 1985 to 1994, he worked as Superintendent of Technical Support at Zenith el. Corp. and since 1994, he has been a professor and a researcher at the Postgraduate Department of the Instituto Tecnolgico de Chihuahua. His research interests include intelligent sensors, measurement systems, metrology and reliability. He is a member of the National Researchers System in Mexico, holds a Dr. Eng. Degree, and is an IEEE member. Dr. Rivera-Mejias dissertation was recognized by the Universidad Autnoma de Quertaro as the best thesis in 2008. He has published more than 45 papers and two books. Mariano Carrillo-Romero received the M.S. Degree in electronic engineering from the Instituto Tecnologico de Chihuahua in 2007. His research interests include instrumentation systems, smart sensors, neural networks and fuzzy logic applications. Gilberto Herrera-Ruiz received the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary, in 1992, and the Post-Doctoral degree from the Mechanical Engineering Laborabory (MEL), Tsukuba, Japan, in 1994. He is a Researcher with the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologa of Mxico and is currently a Head Professor in the School of Engineering, in Quertaro State University, Mexico. He has been an adviser for more than fifty theses and a coauthor on more than forty technical papers published in international journals and conferences. His fields of interest include motion control, hardware signal processing, and manufacturing processes.

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