RTI is a leader in disparate sensor data integration, sensor data fusion, and advanced data analytics. RTI's flagship product is the “SPARK Protocol Handler” (SPH), which provides seamless Plug and Play (PnP) sensor data access and control across fixed and networked domains. The SPH is a software suite that can plug into sensors and then provide access to those sensors via a variety of standard communications medium and protocols.

Though several standards exist to enable sensor data access, control, and configuration, many vendors do not conform to those standards and in many cases have unique interfaces. The SPH was built specifically to address these interoperability issues across a variety of sensor types and domains by making same and disparate sensor data available in a common format. This also creates a foundation for sensor data fusion and advanced analytics that support the creation of actionable intelligence and decision support (to human users and other sensors and systems). 


Sensor profiles are developed for each sensor type that allow that sensor to “plug in” to the SPH and conform to a common standard. As vendors update their interfaces, updates can be made to the configuration-controlled sensor profile and distributed to all instances where sensor interface upgrades are required. The SPH solution provides a way to reduce the complexity and Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) costs to vendors and end customers, in order to quickly adopt and implement interface standards. RTI provides this solution as software and/or embeddable hardware, thereby reducing life cycle costs, while insuring proper implementation of the interfaces and standards.


Problem space: Sensor vendors must support certain standards and maintain compliance with the evolving standards and specifications. This means that each vendor must obtain the specialized knowledge and experience required to meet and maintain compliance with each update to the specification. Currently sensor vendors develop solutions utilizing a mix of hardware and software without implementing consistent standards. This creates:

  • additional development cost and life cycle issues

  • additional need for test and validation resources

  • added risk to cyber security

  • NRE costs with each new sensor or specification update

  • delayed delivery to the end user

Solution Space: The SPH is a generic Protocol Handler (PH), used as a Reference Platform (drop in). It utilizes an existing PH capability and has been extended to support sensor interfaces standards (e.g. The Army’s Integrated Sensor Architecture (ISA) and the CBRN communities CBRN Common Sensor Interface (CCSI) standards), thereby eliminating the need for vendor specific design, reducing current existing complexities by having a “generic design” for the PH to implement Vendor Specific Sensor Information. This reduces NRE costs to vendors and ensures predictable implementations that maintain the integrity of the specification by version and future updates to the specification.

The Spark PH is composed of five Configuration Items (CI)s as detailed and depicted below:​

  • Sensor Interface Adapter (SIA) – This component provides communications with the sensor which is typically either a serial interface (e.g. RS-232, USB) with specific characteristics (speed, data bits, parity, start of message sequence, end of message sequence, etc.) or an ethernet interface (TCP/IP, UDP/IP).

  • Sensor Protocol Adapter (SPA) – This component translates received messages into the PH internal format or internal messages into the sensor's format. 

  • Generic Protocol Handler (GPH) – This component, usually just referred to as the Protocol Handler (PH), is the intermediary message control layer that bridges the gap between sensor and host. The PH specifically handles message processing, command and control, time-based messaging, and configuration. 

  • Host Protocol Adapter( HPA) – This component translates internal format IPC Queue entries to and from the sensor’s format. 

  • Host Interface Adapter (HIA) – This component provides communications with the host system. This typically is an ethernet interface.