The Connected Home’s Silent Partner: The Sensor

April 24, 2017
By Weld Royal

Smart Homes Get Smarter As Sensors Become More Sophisticated

PIR sensor

For anyone who thinks the smart home is a futuristic thing, a walk around the massive Consumer Electronics Show held every January in Las Vegas will shatter that notion. At CES 2017 some very wacky gadgets including appliances, plumbing and even event equipment for our feline and canine friends beckoned from booths all over the show. There were ovens and smart fry pans that help you cook, video doorbells, wifi-enabled plugs, even a smart device designed to scare deer away from your garden.

In a recent study on connected homes, which operate on the Internet of Things, the McKinsey Global Institute identified a 31% compound growth-rate in the U.S. for smart home related connected devices and noted that the growth is on track to continue. Within the surging market, Sensors are a critical—albeit unseen—part. Imagine Sensors as the silent partner of the smart home.

The smartest of smart homes may have up to 100 connected lights, as well as IoT-linked heating and cooling products, appliances, thermostats, plumbing and other connected equipment. Panasonic’s Sensors are enabling technologies such as these and allowing for faster, smaller and more energy efficient devices to be designed. Linked together through the IoT, Sensors are communicating more data to create sophisticated devices, and helping to enhance complex designs by providing increased internal feedback in circuits.

As the world – and its technology – becomes more connected, Panasonic is positioned as a specialty Sensor maker and an authority in this IoT critical technology. Their potential for specialized customization make Panasonic’s Sensors the key to unlocking any one of the applications below. And then some.

Wireless motion sensors

1) Wireless Motion Sensors

What makes Sensors such a compelling addition to the IoT are the opportunities for automation resulting from the tech’s wireless connectivity. Panasonic’s Grid-EYE Thermopile Sensors, for instance, produce data that is small enough to be transferred via Bluetooth. These wireless Sensors have the capacity to detect movement both in and around a connected home.

smart home security

2) Security for people or pets

A Passive Infrared, or PIR, Sensor can detect a person as they approach the front door and send an alert to the homeowner’s smart phone. But, with its 64 pixel (8x8) Sensor, the Grid-EYE Sensor can provide even more information on human—or animal--presence inside a home.

The Grid-EYE is able to sense the presence of multiple people at once. Connected to the right platform, this gives the user the ability to count the people in any given space.

Not only does the information coming from the Sensor allow for people counting but, using the body heat of those in the room, it is able to track individuals as they move through a space. Connected to a network of devices, these Sensors can provide homeowners important information about their abodes, even when they are away.

The Sensor also has the ability to differentiate between humans and animals, so the house pet doesn’t trigger an alarm system that will still be activated by a possible burglar.

Lighting applications

3) Lighting Applications

Sensing people in a room goes beyond security. A Sensor can save energy. Sensors placed in doorways are used to trigger lighting fixtures when someone enters a room and conversely turn them off upon exit. A movement tracking Sensor such as the Grid-EYE can also monitor action in a room and turn off lights -- another way to lower energy and cost. More About Lighting Application Solutions >

heating & cooling controls

4) Controlling Heating And Cooling, and Saving Cash

A study by the University of Virginia, entitled The Smart Thermostat: Using Occupancy Sensors to Save Energy in Homes, states that heating, ventilation and cooling, or HVAC, is the largest source of residential energy consumption. In the U.S., it accounts for 43% of energy consumption, and 61% in Canada.

To cut this energy consumption, the study suggests employing “smart thermostats,” which use Sensors to detect when the rooms are unoccupied or its inhabitants are sleeping. Used in this way, a smart thermostat can cut a power bill by a third, according to the study.

With its people-counting abilities, the Grid-EYE can also be utilized to automate temperature control. For instance, if eight people walk into the living room to join the party, the Grid-EYE can sense those individuals and trigger the HVAC to account for the additional body heat.

It is benefits such as these that are driving consumer demand for smart homes. The ease of use, automation and potential savings are returns that make these investments enticing, and Sensors are an unseen, but critical element helping to make smart home technologies widespread.

To learn more about Panasonic Sensors, click here.