The Origin of Optex—Infrared

Becoming a Pioneer in Automatic Door Sensors Using Infrared Technology

Around 40 years ago, Optex became the first company in the world to commercialize automatic door sensors by applying far infrared rays used mainly in the military.
So you could say infrared is the origin of Optex.

What Are Infrared Rays?

In 1800, the British astronomer William Herschel conducted an experiment in which he passed sunlight through a glass prism to view its resolution, and then placed a thermometer just past the red light ray of the visible light spectrum. The temperature rose in this position, leading Herschel to conclude that light which is invisible to the eye also exists past the red light ray. This experiment clarified the existence of infrared rays.

Infrared Rays Are a Familiar Type of Electromagnetic Wave

Infrared rays are included in electromagnetic waves, which are categorized according to their wavelength. The types of electromagnetic waves include microwaves used in microwave ranges, infrared rays, radio waves in radios and televisions, visible light rays, ultraviolet rays, and x-rays.

The electromagnetic spectrum

Near Infrared Rays (AIR)

Near infrared rays are electromagnetic waves that are closest to visible light (red). Since these rays have similar properties of visible light rays, they are used as “invisible light that has similar properties of visible light.” Familiar examples of near infrared ray usage include in infrared transmission on mobile phones and other devices, and the remote controls of household appliances.

Far Infrared Rays (PIR)

Far infrared rays are electromagnetic waves that are closest to microwaves. Infrared rays always radiate from an object, and so they have the properties of heat rays. The higher the temperature of the object, the stronger the radiation of infrared rays. So it is thanks to far infrared rays that you can enjoy charcoal-grilled cooking outdoors.

Column: Optex Success Stories and Challenge

In 1980, Optex developed the world’s first far infrared automatic door sensors

Driven by a passion for taking on new ventures, in 1980 Optex launched a sensational product of automatic door sensors using far infrared sensors into the automatic door industry, which so far had been using stepping-style rubber mats as the mainstream. These sensors were designed in only one week, and developed over several months. This world-pioneering formula that we developed was certainly the fruit of our passion for innovation. In our third year of business, we successfully secured the top share in the market for automatic door sensors by providing maintenance and workmanship that did not allow rival companies to emulate us.

Valuable Lessons Learnt

However, it was not long before we started to receive a succession of complaints. “The door opens and closes on its own.” We couldn’t determine the cause for this malfunction. Our engineers started to get impatient. This all happened in June, during the rainy season in Japan. Our salesmen sweated as they ran around visiting customers in the muggy weather and continual rain. While observing what was going on, one engineer had an “a-ha” moment. It’s the humidity. He immediately used a rice cooker to recreate a hot and humid environment. It showed that moisture enters the core region of the sensor in such an environment. The parts we were sourcing from overseas couldn’t cope with Japan’s climate. This was a valuable lesson for us. Since then, we have been repeatedly testing Optex products in a range of installation environments, and working diligently to develop highly reliable and safe products.

The world’s first far infrared automatic door sensors

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