The use of Embedded Smart Modules for Designing Standard-based and Reconfigurable Weblabs



The Internet appearance has been changing engineering education. Both students and teachers can now access educational resources using Internet-accessible devices, such as PCs, smart phones or tablets. The collaboration among institutions was improved, since different and specialized resources are easily shared and disseminated, contributing to the improvement of engineering courses. While at the beginning those resources were limited to static documentation, simulations and to other computer-based tools, the requirement for experimental work activities posed by every engineering course incentivized the appearance of remote laboratories, also known as weblabs. Currently, they are seen by the educational community as a cost-effective and flexibility solution for the conduction of experimental activities.
Despite the adoption of weblabs in many engineering courses, further efforts are required for their widespread. According to the research community, one of the biggest difficulty is the lack of standardization in their design and access. This incentivized the appearance of a consortium named GOLC (Global Online Laboratory Consortium)13, the working group IEEEp1876 Std.14, as well as many PhD research works. However, most of these initiatives are mainly focused on the software layers for describing and accessing laboratories, underestimating the possibility of designing and sharing the instruments and modules, named as weblab modules, for conducting the target experiments.
To fulfill software and hardware requirements for designing and accessing weblabs, the document proposes the use of the IEEE1451.0 Std. This standard provides a reference model for network-interface and access smart transducers, which can be designed as the weblab modules required to conduct the target experiments. Additionally, the proposed solution also suggests using reconfigurable hardware devices, namely FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), to create the weblab infrastructure. By describing the weblab modules according the IEEE1451.0 Std. and using standard HDL (Hardware Description Files) files, these can be easily replicated and shared through different weblab infrastructures, promoting this way the design of reconfigurable and standard-based weblabs using embedded smart modules.


Weblabs, Remote labs, Remote laboratories, IEEE 1451


Remote Laboratories

Book Chapter

Online Experimentation: Emerging Technologies and IoT, 2, pp. 1-15, International Frequency Sensor Association Publishing, December 2015


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