Distributed sensing is a technology that enables continuous, real-time measurements along the entire length of a fibre optic cable. Unlike traditional sensors that rely on discrete sensors measuring at pre-determined points, distributed sensing does not rely upon manufactured sensors but utilises the optical fibre. The optical fibre is the sensing element without any additional transducers in the optical path.
The interrogator operates according to a radar-style process: it sends a series of pulses into the fibre and records the return of the naturally occurring scattered signal against time. In doing this, the distributed sensor measures at all points along the fibre.
As the fibre is the sensor, it is also a cost-effective method that can be easily deployed even in the harshest and most unusual environments.
Distributed sensing is usually used for acquiring temperature, strain and acoustic data.