How Important are Sensors?

Forms of Intrusion Detection and Common Uses

Used in both commercial and residential applications, a motion detector alarm device uses optical, microwave, or acoustic sensing technologies to detect motion within the protected vicinity. When motion is detected, it triggers an alarm or other security devices such as triggering access control or video surveillance systems. 

As intrusion detection continues to move toward connectivity and the IoT, the reliance on sensors as the gateway to security in commercial security applications is increasing. The increase in reliability, stability, durability, and aesthetics all make sensors and detectors a critical component in commercial and residential security applications..

Forms of Intrusion Detection

Physical security technologies have expanded rapidly and today intrusion detection as a product category includes much more than devices to detect motion. These include microwave, fiber optic perimeter, and laser detection to protect the furthest reaches of large facilities or enterprises. Indoor sensors range from intrusion detection to devices incorporating video and even detectors that alarm on sensing standing water, excess humidity, and temperature variations above preset or compliance-regulated levels. Sensors can be hardwired or wireless, or a hybrid including both traditional wiring and radio frequency signals.

  • Passive infrared (PIR) — PIRs detect body heat, which alters infrared energy. When a sensor detects the slightest change in temperature within its protective grid, it signals an alarm. 
  • MicroWave (MW) —MWs emit microwave pulses across spaces to detect movement. MWs cover longer ranges and wider areas than PIRs.
  • Dual technology sensors — Dual sensors combine PIR and MV capabilities. One sensor is passive and the other is active. Each sensor works on different parts of the spectrum, and both sensors must be triggered for an alarm to activate.
  • Area-reflective sensors — These are incorporated into LEDs, from which infrareds are emitted to detect movement within the range of a lighted area.
  • Ultrasonic sensors — This sensor type is similar to the MV, only with ultrasonic waves, which detect movement across spaces.
  • Vibration sensors — One of the most common options, vibration sensors are switch-activated to send out vibrations that detect motion.

Common Uses 

  • Intruder alarms— This is the most common use in commercial, industrial, and government properties. Sensors detect when an intruder has entered a premises, or when unauthorized personnel have strayed into a restricted area.
  • Entryway lighting— Sensors detect incoming vehicles at gates or within parking areas and activate lights for easier navigation. When the area is clear, the lights go off to conserve energy. Entryway lighting is also used in hallways and select rooms when people pass or enter.
  • Security lighting— Security lights work in tandem with intruder alarms. When a burglar trespasses onto a property, the motion sensor detects unauthorized movement that triggers an alarm. Simultaneously, security lights flash on throughout the area in question to scare off and deprive the intruder of any hiding spaces on the property.


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