Fiber Optic Sensing Solves Unique and Difficult Problems

Where fiber optic technology is concerned, we typically envision data transmission over tremendous lengths with very low optical losses incurred. This allows optical fibers to sense small changes accurately.  It is these characteristics that enable the web of connectivity that virtually every human benefits from.

If we view these technologies differently, it turns out that some of the lesser known, but fundamental characteristics of optical fiber and cable, lend themselves to solving real world problems.

  • Imagine being able to monitor the entire length of a water, oil, or gas pipeline to create a temperature profile, ensuring adequate flow.
  • How about listening to that same pipeline to detect small, manageable leaks at any point along the pipe – before they become catastrophic?
  • What if we could sense seismic activity over great areas, using existing telecommunications cables?
  • Is it possible to detect foot traffic, vehicle movement, or intrusion activities along a remote perimeter?
  • Could we reduce the frequency and severity of train derailments by working to detect rail fatigue or break and their causes – preventing, rather responding to them after-the-fact?
  • Why not use a “smart fiber” that is minimally intrusive, virtually weightless, to monitor the dynamic 3D shape of a structure to which it conforms?

These are just some of the use cases where Distributed Fiber Optic Sensing (DFOS) has and will grow in use in the coming decades.

DFOS is commonly viewed in these separate technologies:

  • Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) –where temperature can be monitored at every meter along a lengthy asset.
  • Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS)– where sound is detected as if microphones are placed at meter intervals along spans reaching more than 100 km.
  • Distributed Strain Sensing (DSS)– where fiber optic cables can be engineered and mechanically coupled to structures, like dams and pipelines, where ground movement can be detected and threatened locations pinpointed.
  • Distributed Strain and Temperature Sensing (DSTS, also called DTSS)– where systems of great length can be continuously monitored for temperature and strain to ensure fault-free operation while improving safety.
  • Shape Sensing Technology – where a fiber can be embedded or attached to a surface to monitor dynamic 3D shape and enable successful minimally invasive surgery, medical instrument guidance, wind energy and gas turbine monitoring, oil exploration and undersea defense operations.


Learn More

OFS is a world leader in the design and manufacture of optical fiber. Our commitment to continuous sensing innovation and improvement enable us to help resolve challenges faced by some of the world’s most complex and challenging industries. To learn more about our fibers for sensing or discuss your specific needs with an expert, reach out to the OFS team today.

Knowledge Base

Our scientists and engineers create the products and solutions that become industry standards. We publish their results and most important publications on our website.Knowledge Base Ebook


They discuss a wide variety of topics ranging from our suggested solutions to technical problems to breakthroughs in numerous products.


Visit Our Knowledge Base