Smarter Sensors Introduce Innovative Automation

Able to collect and share more data, security-style sensors are playing an increasingly important role in home control.

Able to collect and share more data, security-style sensors are playing an increasingly important role in home control.

I admit it. Manufacturers of security sensors are usually at the bottom of my list of must-sees at past Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) Expos. The entertainment end of the industry—TVs, speakers and screens—usually steals all the thunder. But this year, at least for me, the lowly little sensor really stood out as a device that could have a huge impact on how we control our homes. Able to monitor and measure environmental conditions beyond the mere sound of glass breaking or the movement of an object near the front door, sensors stand to separate a smart house from one that’s utterly genius.

Of course, we expect manufacturers of security systems lead the way toward smarter, more advanced sensors, but at the CEDIA Expo, the roadmap toward innovative sensor applications seemed to be charted by companies with roots in the A/V business.

Elan and its sister Core Brand companies, for example, are known largely for their home control and A/V distribution systems, but according to Bill Hensley, director of marketing communications for Core Brands, Elan is developing an IP surveillance camera with facial recognition technology embedded. Using analytics developed by Linear, the camera will be able to permit access to a home or business by analyzing the facial characteristics of a person in its view. The technology is ready, “we are just researching what would be the best form factor for the camera,” Hensley says. He expects the IP surveillance camera with embedded facial recognition technology to be available later this year.

Even one of the biggest manufacturers of universal remote controls, URC, notes the powerful implications of well-designed and implemented sensors. “They can only grow the automation industry,” says Hank Eisengrein, URC national training manager. The company recently announced six new sensors to enabled new control capabilities from its Total Control home automation system. Unlike most security sensors that detect motion, smoke or the sound of breaking glass, URC’s new line perceives the presence of video, light, audio, current, voltage and contact closure as a method of triggering a string of commands to various devices integrated into the Total Control system. For example, a light sensor connected to URC’s MRX-4SEN Sensor Extender can signal the Total Home system to lower a set of motorized window blinds to a certain position when there’s a certain amount of ambient light available in a room.

URC Sensor Extender

Finally, Seura, a company known for its unique application of flat-panel TVs, has incorporated a motion sensor into its Enhanced and Deco Series of vanishing and non-vanishing mirror TVs as a way to activate a built-in OLED clock. When the sensor detects movement the clock illuminates and is visible through the mirror. The time fades away after 60 seconds of no motion. The clock can be placed anywhere on the mirror and is adhered to the back of the mirror much like Seura’s integrated flat-panel TVs.

Seura mirror TV sports a hidden clock.

Also check out:
Contact Sensors are the Secret Sauce in Home Automation
Inside the World’s Most Hands-free Home
Top 10 New Technologies for Your Home


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