This week, Fluke Corp. introduced Fluke Connect, a technology that not only links handheld instruments to smartphones, it lets iOS 7 or Android 4.4 phones share measurement data anywhere in the world through an app. Upon hearing of Fluke Connect, I immediately thought of how it could do more.
Fluke Connect lets you share measurements from multimeters, infrared thermometers, and AC/DC current meters. A local phone connects over BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to a meter or over WiFi to an infrared thermometer. If the local phone has internet access through a WiFi or cellular connection, it can send the data to a remote phone through the app, assuming that phone has internet access.
Such connectivity can be a great time saver because you can see what's happening on equipment without being there. Thus, you can make decisions on taking action from wherever you are. You can tell someone at the measurement location what to do about the problem. The photo below shows data on a motor's current draw being displayed on a local phone connected to the clamp meter.
Having remote access to measurement through your phone is a great time saver, money saver, and maybe even a job or life saver, but I immediately wondered about other possibilities. For example, suppose you get some live data from the field and need to take action because a temperature is too high or a device is consuming excessive current. You still need a person at the measurement location to take action.
What if you could take action remotely, even if just to change a meter setting to get better resolution? When I asked Fluke about that, a spokesperson replied that early customers had already asked about remote control, but there are issues to resolve. Many of the meters, for example, can't be controlled remotely. You need to turn a knob or push a button to change a setting.
Instrument issues aside, having the ability to connect wirelessly and have control over internal equipment raises security issues. You can't let anyone have control over internal equipment and processes. Another issue is that at present, Fluke Connect requires two phones or tablets to work. That means you have to leave a phone or tablet connected to your meter in close proximity or the connection will be lost.
Fluke Connect also lets you store data to the cloud through a free Fluke account. You can retrieve data later in case you don't have internet access at your remote location. What if you don't want to share all the data? Having an account with limited access would help here.
What applications could you see by having phone access to measurements? What else would you like to do once you have that data in your phone?
—Martin Rowe, Senior Technical Editor, Test & Measurement