Occupancy Sensors Deliver Lighting on Demand

Sensors are wonderful things. Many of us have one by the front door, which turns lights on automatically when we get home late at night. This reassures us that no-one is lurking in the shadows, and gives us enough light so we can see to unlock the door. In the home, sensors provide benefits including convenience, security and cost savings (through having lights on only when required). In commercial buildings, these same benefits are multiplied many times over.

Lighting can account for up to 40% of the energy used in commercial buildings, and the cost of that energy is creeping up year by year. One of the easiest ways to reduce energy use and to cut costs (and emissions) is to turn off lights when they are not required. Manual light switches exist so that humans can turn lights on and off. Most of us are good at turning lights on, but we often forget to turn them off when leaving a room.

That’s where occupancy sensors come in. Originally designed for use with security systems, occupancy sensors have been refined and enhanced to control lighting and HVAC in commercial and residential spaces. These sensors detect activity within a specified area, and provide convenience by turning lights on automatically when someone enters. They also reduce costs and energy use by turning lights off soon after the last occupant has left.

Using occupancy sensors to turn lights off when areas are unoccupied helps to reduce energy waste and costs by between 35% and 45% (according to the California Energy Commission).

Most sensors are configurable, and can be adjusted for the required levels of sensitivity and accuracy. This helps to avoid false triggering, which can be caused by things like air movements from HVAC vents and the movement of warm air in front of a sunny window. Some sensors also allow you to set time delays between the sensor detecting a lack of occupancy and turning the lights off (usually between 10 and 15 minutes).

Occupancy sensors are best suited to areas where people spend variable amounts of time and often forget to turn lights off when leaving, such as meeting rooms and private offices. There are two main types of occupancy sensors used with lighting and building automation systems: Passive Infrared (PIR) and Ultrasonic.

Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors detect occupancy by passively measuring the infrared radiation being emitted from the objects in their view. Motion is detected when an infrared source (such as a person) passes in front of another infrared source with a different temperature (such as a wall). The PIR sensors react to the changes in heat patterns created by the moving person and turn lights on and off accordingly.

A curved faceted lens defines the field of view as a fan-shaped series of vertical and horizontal “cones” of detection projected from the sensor. The farther an occupant is from the sensor, the wider the gaps between these cones, and the larger a motion needs to be to trigger the device.

PIR sensors are highly resistant to false triggering, but are strictly line-of-sight and cannot “see” around objects or over partitions. These sensors are ideally suited to areas with little or no obstruction, such as small offices and meeting rooms.

Ultrasonic sensors emit an inaudible high-frequency (25-40 kHz) sound wave, which bounces off objects, surfaces and people. When the waves bounce back to the sensor, their frequency is measured. These sensors can “see” around objects and surfaces as long as the surfaces are hard enough to bounce back the sound waves for detection.

Ultrasonic sensors are sensitive to all types of motion and generally have zero coverage gaps (being able to detect movements not within line of sight). However, they are more expensive than PIR sensors, are more prone to false triggering, and may interfere with other ultrasonic sensors or hearing aids.

These sensors are best suited for indoor use, in areas that are large, contain obstructions, or are unusually shaped such as open offices, large conference rooms, and restrooms. Dual technology/Hybrid sensors combine both PIR and ultrasonic technology to deliver maximum reliability and coverage with a minimum of false triggers.

These sensors allow for wide coverage and are suitable for a wide range of applications. However, they are more expensive than PIR or ultrasonic sensors, and typically require more adjustments. Hybrid sensors are a good choice for large open areas, and for areas with unusual occupancy patters or work requirements.

Occupancy sensors can be mounted on the ceiling or on the wall (like a light switch). Careful planning is required to ensure sensors are located where they will detect occupancy and occupant activity in all parts of the room. In a small area, such as a private office, a single sensor will usually provide sufficient coverage. In larger spaces, multiple sensors will likely be needed to obtain full coverage. (Be aware also that coverage and range can vary between sensor manufacturers.)

It is important to get the sensitivity setting correct, which determines the amount of movement required to trigger lights to turn on, stay on, or turn off. If the sensitivity is too high, the sensor might turn lights on even though the area is unoccupied. Setting it too low might leave your occupants in the dark!

Time delay settings specify the amount of time the sensor waits between perceiving the room is empty and turning the lights off. Shorter time delays produce higher energy savings, but may shorten lamp life due to more frequent switching. Longer delays avoid continual on-off cycles in areas where occupants enter and leave frequently. They also help to overcome brief periods when an occupant is moving very little. Manufacturers often recommend a minimum time delay of 15 minutes.

You also need to ensure that the lamps you are using are suitable for occupancy sensing. For example, HID lamps require long warm-up times, so are not suited to being switched on and off by occupancy sensors. CFLs can also be sensitive to rapid on/off cycling in situations where only brief illumination is required. Better results for these lamps may be obtained by using scheduling to switch between low power and full power (dimming).

Many of today’s commercial lighting and building automation systems use occupancy sensors to turn lights on and off based on whether or not an area is occupied. Not only does this reduce energy consumption and save money, it also helps buildings to comply with the “automatic shut-off of building lighting” requirements of energy codes such as ASHRAE 90.1 and California Title 24.

Gail Hodgson is the Marketing Specialist at Daintree Networks (daintree.net), who design and develop wireless lighting control solutions for commercial buildings. Daintree’s solutions combine the benefits of wireless mesh networking (including reliability, robustness, flexibility, and security) with the energy- and cost-saving capabilities of lighting control. Download white papers and access other free resources about lighting control and wireless embedded technologies from Daintree’s Resource Center.

© Copyright Daintree Networks, 2010

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Prepare for the Sensor Revolution

The sensors are here

Our complete society is going to be interactive. Objects will be able to sense, reason, communicate, and act. Our surroundings will assess and modify according to our wants and needs. It is not too far away; in fact, it has already begun.

Sensors play a prevalent and productive role in our world. Sensors are electric transducers that translate a physical property into an electrical signal. Sensors assess physical phenomena such as pressure, light, and temperature, and then relate the recordings via electrical impulse. Sensors are found on roads, in homes, in office buildings, in industrial warehouses, etc.

Sensor technology has far advanced sensor capabilities. Sensors are not just stationary, autonomous objects; through wireless connections, networks of sensors are using their synergy to create more views into our world.

What they are capable of

The technology is inviting opportunities for sensors to function in novel ways:

- By planting sensors in objects, the objects can translate intelligence relating to its use. The object becomes interactive with its environment and its central control agency.

- Technology is enabling the size of sensors to diminish in size and augment in efficiency. Sensors as small as a couple cubic millimeters can be utilized to read an expansive area of land by communicating with one another and a centralized site.

- Sensor networks are facilitated by short-range wireless connections. As aforementioned, sensors are no longer solitary, autonomous objects, but act in an integrated fashion with other sensors to create a network of intelligence.

What they can do for your business

Sensors are used in many areas of life, but have made an impact on the face of business. What sort of things can sensors do for your business?

- Sensors provide the ability of acquiring real-time data. Information about an environment or particular situation can be relayed from wherever it is taking place in actual time. Imagine micro sensors being used on roads to assess conditions and accessed by drivers before hazards take place; or, farmers having land conditions assessed in order to implement nutrients for better food growth.

- Manufacturers will be able to better determine processes if individual objects are affixed with sensors. Each stage can be analyzed and modified according to sensor-relayed data.

- Along with the insight into products, sensors can provide a view into the habits of consumers. Tracking consumer habits along with other marketing information will enable businesses to procure and further individualize their approach towards consumers.

- Sensors virtually read their environments. This means a business will have all the criteria needed to simulate real situations. This can be applied to agriculture, the military, transportation, etc.

These are just a few possibilities arriving with the implementation of sensor technology. Experience and modifications will only inspire further developments. For instance, sensors placed in the human body can presage diseases, ailments, birth defects, etc., alerting the medical world of problems in their early, more manageable and benevolent stages.

What does all of this mean for your business?

The sensors are here and more are coming. What will the propulsion of sensor technology mean for your business? That is up to you. There are a few things a savvy business can do in order to prepare for the sensor revolution.

- Analyze the scope of your business. How can sensor technology be applied, and how can your business profit from implementing that technology? Becoming one of the pioneers of instituting the technology will move you well beyond the competition.

- Educate yourself and your peers. In is not enough for a business to analyze how sensors will affect their industry, but businesses need to educate their employees to make an impact once the revolution commences full force.

- Develop products and services conducive to the sensor revolution. The changed landscape of the world will mean products and services will have to change with it. The abundance of sensor technology means there will be a need for the storage of data, the teaching of new skills, providing security for the flux of new data, providing power to sensors, etc.

The revolution has begun. Technology has once again provided us with ingenuity, now it is time for our businesses to show the same in adjusting their resources to tailor the onset of the revolution.

Measurement Specialties offers a large variety of sensor products to meet application requirements in many industries.

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Control VR Launches Motion Capture Glove That Will Change the Way We Interact with Technology

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) June 05, 2014

Control VR™, the leader in state-of-the-art motion capture technology, launched a Kickstarter campaign to release the first wearable gesture control system. Control VR™ turns a user’s hands into the ultimate intuitive controller for PCs, tablets, virtual reality, augmented reality, and robotics.

The Kickstarter campaign aims to empower developers and enthusiasts to create applications of the future via access to Control VR™’s affordable development kit. Innovators can join this revolutionary, collaborative project by taking this movement to the next level by visiting the Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/SyOI6c.

Control VR™ overcomes the biggest hurdle facing the virtual reality industry by providing users with a fully immersive sense of virtual reality, allowing them to see and to use virtual hands and fingers in real time.

This patented technology far exceeds predecessors by utilizing the smallest inertial sensors, ultra low- latency, and ergonomic design without being confined to a camera’s line-of-site.

Control VR™ has set the funding goal at $ 250,000 USD. With a contribution of $ 350 USD or more, each supporter gains early access to a Control VR™ control system, more than ten software applications, and access to a software development kit (SDK), which includes clear video tutorials to make integration with any 3D game or application as easy as possible.

“Every generation, there are a few powerful technologies that hold the potential to completely transform the way we communicate, work, heal, and play. Inertial motion capture has the potential to create world-changing consumer applications. I am thrilled that Control VR™ is delivering this previously exclusive technology to consumers to spark collective innovation with support from the Kickstarter community,” said Alex Sarnoff, CEO of Control VR™.

Control VR™ brings together the experts in inertial motion sensor technology and software, as well as significant leaders in gaming, entertainment, and the military. Supported by nearly twenty years of development, their breakthrough patented technology has been trusted by Fortune 500 companies and leading technology firms such as Raytheon, NASA, and UbiSoft.

“This is the most significant development in virtual reality since Oculus,” said Greg Goodrich, Veteran Game Industry Producer. “Control VR™ is finally providing users with the intuitive control system we’ve all been waiting for. I’m incredibly excited for gamers to get their hands into the gloves and to experience the future of virtual reality gaming.”

The impact of the Control VR™ technology extends far beyond gaming into the realms of social interaction, education, design, entertainment, medicine, and more.

“I’ve worked with the Control VR™ engineers for the last 5 years, utilizing their technology to deepen our understanding of mobility in normal aging as well as in those with Parkinson’s disease,” said Christian Duval PhD., Leading Movement Disorder Specialist. “In order to advance research, we need to be able to afford these new technologies that previously were very expensive. Now that the price is reduced to consumer levels, I see a revolution for every industry that uses motion capture, as well as ones that previously could not afford it.”

Control VR™ will be hosting a private suite and demonstrating the control system from June 10th-12th at the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3 2014. Press and developers may register to gain access to the Control VR™ suite by emailing rsvp@controlvr.com.

About Control VR, Inc

Control VR™ is the leading provider of state-of-the-art inertial motion capture systems for consumer applications with an emphasis on virtual reality, PCs, and robotics. Control VR™ is led by a team of industry experts passionate about changing the way people experience the world forever and providing developers with the tools to create the game-changing applications of tomorrow. For more information on Control VR™, visit: http://www.controlvr.com.