Thursday, September 12, 2013


File this under “Great ideas I wish I’d had”: NREL has won an R&D award for its “Image-Processing Occupancy Sensor” or IPOS for short.

The idea is simple: motion-based sensors for lighting are fine when there’s motion, less good when you’re engaged in brain work, or other tasks, that don’t require motion. And who has never had the motion-controlled lights go out on them when they’re in the bathroom? (Or was that just me?)

So the idea is to use a camera and image-processing software to determine when someone is in a space, turning the lights on for them and off when the space becomes empty. Details are given on the NREL web page, “NREL Adds Eyes, Brains to Occupancy Detection”, which I can barely bring myself to read I’m so jealous.

There is one question that occurs to me though: when the lights are out, how does the sensor know to turn them on when someone enters? Unless it uses IR light to see in the dark, which would rather defeat it’s energy-saving purpose.

Didn’t think of that, did you guys!

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