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NREL develops more intelligent occupancy sensor

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:occupancy detection? motion sensors? NREL? IPOS?

And in an office environment, IPOS can detect if there are people staying late, no matter how still they're sitting, and deliver that information so the building uses just the lights that are neededno more, no less. The information can also be used to make instantaneous decisions on the amount of ventilation, air conditioning, or daylighting the occupants of the office need at that particular moment. And it can signal when security officers should be alerted.

In all, IPOS raises the accuracy of occupancy detection from about 75 per cent to the upper 90 per cent range.

Brackney and Gentile Polese said they started working on the idea for IPOS because office managers were expressing frustration with sensors that had too many false positives and false negatives.

But the timing was important too. IPOS can be made economically because it borrows from the technology of smartphonescommodity devices that combine a camera and a microprocessor and now sell for a modest price because so many of them are produced.

"It's a security system that can save energy as well," Brackney said. "It's really exciting that it no longer has just a single function."

IPOS's field of view is a 45-degree angle, much like most cameras, Gentile Polese said. "But its range is much longer than traditional occupancy detectors." Instead of a 20-foot-long detection field, a single IPOS device can detect faces and human activity up to 100 feet (convert to m) away.

While traditional technologies require a motion sensor in each monitored space, IPOS can capture images of larger areasand it can replace several traditional occupancy sensors by segmenting the images into up to 16 virtual zones. The zones can be analysed individually and simultaneously, enabling very large spaces to be monitored and controlled through a single IPOS sensor.

The sensors will likely sell for between $100 and $200 once a licensee starts producing them in

IPOS is comprised of a small camera sensor integrated with a high-speed embedded microprocessor and novel software modules. The device is small; in fact, the embedded computer is the size of a stick of gum. It can be installed in an unlimited number of spaces and positions, and the individual components can be coupled in many configurations and quantities to cover spaces ranging from small rooms to large commercial buildings.

Functions of IPOS

Figure 3: Screen grabs of the four functions of the IPOS. Photo credit: Dennis Schroeder

In office buildings, the camera-based technology could draw objections from employees.

However, IPOS has the ability to keep the images out of the wrong hands, Brackney said. "The microprocessor on the sensor captures the image, analyses it, and then destroys it" soon after processing, and it never leaves the device.

"We also have the capacity to blur the images" if there is worry about privacy invasion, Gentile Polese said. "It's trained to detect faces of people and human traits, but not to detect what kind of faces and what kind of people."

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