Energy harvesting technology harvests the micro amounts of energy generated from subtle changes in movement, vibration, light, temperature differences and other factors, and converts it into electrical power. This technology not only conserves energy generated in the environment, it also has the potential to expand the application range of sensors. This is because of the extremely high level of affinity energy harvesting technology has with the various sensors that are widely used for a multitude of purposes.
Focusing on Less Wiring for Supplying Power,
and Fewer Battery Replacements
The environment surrounding us is becoming increasingly convenient, with high performance devices installed everywhere. The flipside of this is the troublesome task of wiring work to install these numerous devices, and the post-installation maintenance of replacing batteries. Optex has been focusing on energy harvesting as a key technology to enable wireless sensors to operate as an independent power source. Realizing this will make it possible to save on installation (no wiring work needed) and maintenance (no battery replacement) work, and also effectively contribute to creating an eco-friendly, energy-saving and sustainable society.
Developing a Switch That Utilizes Pushing Force
An application that uses small amounts of energy somehow led to the development of a switch that utilizes the force of pushing.
There are two types of automatic doors: one opens and closes automatically using sensors, and the other does so by the touch of the person passing through it. Both of them require electricity to send out the open and close signals that power the door’s motor.
Automatic door sensors and touch switches are two areas that Optex has accumulated extensive experience in since the start of our business. At Optex, we have used energy harvesting technology to successfully make the open-and-close switch of automatic doors power source free.
Reducing the Burdensome Task of Battery Replacement
In 2017, Optex commercialized a wire-free and battery-free touch switch for opening and closing automatic doors, and first launched it in America. An example of where touch switches have been installed is at a hospital, which uses them to open swing doors at the partitioned areas that have been set up for security and fire prevention purposes. These touch switches are from Optex.
Touch switches are installed in hundreds of places in large hospitals. As there are so many of these switches installed, in-wall wiring work and irregularly occurring battery replacements are quite troublesome tasks. And for battery-operated switches, almost every day some switch somewhere requires a battery replacement. The installed doors also need to be inspected and repaired daily to ensure they can operate even during an emergency.
Shimada : Optex switches are being used in buildings because they can lessen the installation and maintenance work required. These switches can collect electrical power from the force of people pushing the switch to pass through the door, and so there is no need for wiring work or replacing batteries. Hand-operated partitions are still widely used, but Optex technologies and ideas are helping to resolve the issues associated with the installation and maintenance of these doors, and facilitate their use in places where they are needed. Optex switches also conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Large and heavy doors and revolving-style automatic doors are a serious impediment to the disabled and elderly who are trying to open and close or pass through them. So some buildings have cleverly installed Optex open-and-close switches in the vicinity of such doors to give everyone easy access.
Optex-ism That Thoroughly Considers the Usage Site
When we envision the situations in which Optex sensors will be used, for example in the outdoors and somewhere people frequently pass through for automatic doors, we have to make sure they are durable and waterproof.
Tomooka :The efficient generation of electricity and durability are some of the issues associated with energy harvesting technology. We are applying software control technologies and an electronic circuit board design for ultra-low power consumption, which we’ve acquired in the development of our sensors, in order to efficiently use the electricity generated from minute amounts of energy. We have also incorporated many ingenious ideas into the structure to achieve even better durability, which will ensure our sensors remain functioning for a long time in a variety of environments. Moreover, we’ve poured our extensive expertise in outdoor sensors into developing a product that is both highly waterproof and can also operate mechanically for reliable use even outdoors.
Energy Management Systems for Offices and Commercial Buildings
Offices, commercial buildings and other facilities overseas are being subject to increasingly strong energy-saving regulations and mandatory energy-saving ratings. Various sensors are used in these buildings to save energy by controlling the lighting and air conditioning, and managing the temperature and humidity in rooms. In Japan as well, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) are also promoting energy saving in buildings, and the government has enacted a subsidy system for the repair and upgrade of installed energy-saving equipment. These facilities are faced with the issue of securing the enormous number of sensors and associated wiring (LAN, power source) required for energy saving.
Optex has developed a wireless energy harvesting switch that is highly versatile and can be used in free-style layouts, thanks to not requiring any wiring or battery replacement. This switch can be used in a variety of ways and devices, such as to control the lighting and blinds in offices, and in the controller for screens in meeting rooms. Our wireless in-room detection sensor uses a hybrid power source of solar power and a primary battery. It can be used to detect the presence of people in a room, and switch on the lighting and monitor the use of meeting rooms.
Optex uses the EnOcean wireless communication standard module in the development of its sensors.
New Technologies and Actions That Expand the Possibilities for Sensors
At Optex, we aren’t just improving our proprietary sensing technology; we are also searching for trends and special features in new technologies. We will keep trying to understand what the real on-site issues are and what our customers really want to create, and then incorporate the appropriate technologies for that. Optex will continue to create new values and experiences for customers.
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