The Passive Infra Red (PIR) motion sensor… tucked anonymously away in the darkest corners of our homes, or cruelly exposed to blazing sun and biting cold alike in our gardens and driveways, patiently waiting for a visitor or intruder to come along so that it can carry out its life’s work. Often overlooked, yet always vigilant, the humble PIR has been ‘watching our backs’ for almost 40 years.
Whilst still considered by some as a ‘black art’, the PIR sensor is intrinsically a simple device. Infrared radiation emitted by or reflected from an object (such as a human being) is captured by the PIR lens and focussed upon the pyroelectric device inside the sensor. The device reacts to this change in incoming infrared radiation by changing its output voltage, and the associated electronic components interpret this as an activation, perhaps turning on a light or triggering an alarm. In its simplest form, a PIR is nothing more than an automatic switch.
The last fifteen years or so have seen useful, yet hardly spellbinding, advancement in PIR technology. For sure reliability has been improved, and even cheap sensors these days are not usually plagued with the curse of ‘false activation’ that had burdened their forefathers. Sensor manufacturers have also flirted with nice-to-have user features such as dimming, wireless communication and remote control. Nonetheless, in this era where we are able to land a probe on a comet travelling at 135,000 km/h, it would be easy to assume that PIR’s best days are already behind it. However, for the humble PIR sensor, the old adage that ‘life begins at 40’ could prove very appropriate indeed.
Behold the age of the Intelligent Motion Sensor! No longer just a simple automatic switch, these alpha-male PIR sensors are set to offer so much more. Nowhere is this more visible than with those sensors used to control lighting in offices, factories, warehouses, retail stores and the like. Such models offer a feature set designed to greatly enhance the comfort, safety and convenience of their users, whilst also maximising the energy & cost saving benefits that automatic control can bring. Couple these sensors with cutting-edge LED lighting technology and energy savings of up to 90% can be enjoyed. Take a look at the following examples;
> In a retail store, the lighting in aisles not occupied by customers will automatically dim to a comfort level of illumination – saving energy whilst still maintaining an attractive, inviting shopping experience. Once a shopper enters the aisle, full illumination is instantaneously resumed. In a 24-hour grocery store, the resultant savings can be enormous!
> In a factory environment, an intelligent sensor is able to ‘harvest’ any natural light present, supplementing this with just enough artificial light in order to maintain a workable, safe illumination level without over-lighting. As the amount of ambient light changes throughout the day, so too does the level of artificial light – automatically and seamlessly – ensuring that a constant level of illumination is maintained and maximising energy savings. Seasonal changes throughout the year are handled automatically too, saving time and effort.
> In a racked storage warehouse, intelligent sensors can configure themselves into networks – without the need for wires or cables or the involvement of a lighting engineer. Should the sensor in the first light along a particular aisle be triggered by motion, not only will its own light switch on instantaneously, but the next light along the aisle will also simultaneously illuminate at a dimmed level, extending the resultant pool of light to increase visibility and enhance the comfort and safety of the user – particularly important if the operators are zooming around in fork lift trucks. Further innovations, such as the ability for the intelligent sensor to distinguish between different types of motion and react accordingly in the most appropriate manner, or the ability to ‘learn’ the typical daily routine within a specific application and adjust its behaviour to best suit the circumstances, ensure that these super-charged sensors really do deliver maximum performance, maximum energy savings with minimum complexity. Humble no longer, it’s time for the PIR to take centre stage…
To find out what a Lumiqs Intelligent Motion Sensor LED system can do for your business, your employees and your customers, why not contact your local Lumiqs representative? We’re happy to talk about anything, but Intelligent LED lighting is our favourite subject… definitely.