Intrusion detection technology investigated

April 2010 Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

The ever changing state of criminal intelligence has forced manufacturers and dealers alike to curtail the way criminals invade property, be it residential or commercial. New technologies are continually flooding the market and that fact is no different for the detector market.

Infrared technology still seems to remain the better alternative to microwave, for various reasons, but ultimately the installer of the technology determines what he or she prefers in their installations. It would be sensible to draw comparisons and to also look at new technology available in this sector of intrusion.

Analogue or digital

The first comparison is analogue infrared signal or digital infrared signal? The best comparison to use in finding out which one is better would be in your common home appliance. Since television was introduced in the late 1950s, it has been one of the technologies that has grown from strength to strength. Taking DSTV and SABC, there is certainly a difference in picture quality and this is due to signal being sent, one is digital and one is analogue. It would be fairly easy to recognise which of the two is digital.

Though all signal received in infrared is analogue it remains indisputable that the digital alternative remains to be the best and most reliable. Based on the comparison drawn we now have a look at microwave and infrared technology.

Microwave and infrared

Though microwave is a newcomer in the market, it has become well known and well used. The penetration ability of microwave beam is exceptionally good and makes it very difficult to circumvent.

The problem with the above mentioned is that false alarms are more common and false alarm immunity (which is the holy grail for manufacturers) is compromised. The energy consumed with microwave is a factor if one has to consider the wireless route most products are embracing. The consumption of power is simply too high and a car battery would be required to supply power to a microwave detector to last three years which is the bare minimum lifespan of most wireless detectors.

Thus, if we have a look at both technologies each of them have positive and negative influences that make them work in environments.

The latest in infrared and lens technology

Black Mirror Technology has become increasingly more popular in the past couple of months. It was an alternative offered years ago, but was unpopular due to the cost. Recently a new resurgence of this technology has taken the security industry by storm. The black mirror fundamentally is a black nickel coated lens that reflects infrared beams.

You might ask what the benefits are of this technology, the first and probably most important is the fact that white light immunity is increased by 94%. It indicates further that those irritating lightning and thunder cases that create an alarm are eliminated. Direct sunlight that often is a cause of false alarms is also reduced dramatically with black mirror.

This technology being reflective also enables engineers to make the diameter of lenses used in detectors smaller, which in turn creates an anti-vandal component to a product that in the past was easily broken. Gone are the days of fresnel lenses and criminal elements breaking these lenses with their hands moreover these lenses are stored within the detector which makes accessing it difficult.

Due to Fresnel lenses operating at optimum between a certain operating temperature normally -10°C and 50°C warmer climates would experience slower catch performance. Fortunately this has been overcome by the new detector range and operating temperature is now between -35°C and 60°C. This in itself is a phenomenal improvement in technology.

Apart from the items mentioned the new generation detectors also have anti-sway, which enables the detector to recognise the environment and to differentiate between plants and humans. In the past dealers had to hack away at gardens and shrubbery to protect the detector from false alarms. It goes without saying that the end user was not impressed and probably cursed the fact that he or she lived in a jail cell in his/her own home. The new generation detectors are discreet, thus ensuring that installation is done with relative ease and without any intrusion in the personal space of the client.

With all these new technologies at hand it has become vital for the customer as well as the installer to be prudent in what they choose as an installation solution.

Johan Crause
Johan Crause





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