Evolution is key. The lessons learned by navigating the COVID-19 global pandemic over the last 18 months have proven that most companies and industries must be in a constant state of evolution, or risk being left behind in favor of a quicker, more nimble innovation. As the world made strides to adopt “the new normal” across personal and professional lives, such evolution increased tenfold, from stay-at-home orders to social distancing, masks, vaccinations, and now, a slow and steady re-entrance back to societal norms.
And with re-entrance ramping up across office spaces, restaurants, retail, and manufacturing sectors, one area that has seen heightened attention encompasses new and emerging technologies around motion sensors in shared spaces.
For HVAC professionals, the importance of motion sensors is nothing new – virtually every modern-day office building and residential property is equipped with sensors that ensure shared spaces use no more than the exact amount of energy needed to power up an office, a meeting, an event, and then power back down as soon as the sensor gathers that the motion has ceased.
Current sensors cannot recognize the lack of activity until 15-30 minutes after occupants have left the room
However, while every HVAC tradesman, building manager, or business owner wants to create an eco-friendly building in an era where everyone must do their part to stop and reverse the effects of climate change, the unfortunate truth is that the typical, commonplace motion sensors (PIR) become clueless as soon as large motions are not generated by the occupant. And on the other side, current sensors cannot recognize the lack of activity until 15-30 minutes after occupants have left the room.
Offering User-friendly systems
Considering the future of smart buildings and motion sensing technologies, “something is always better than nothing” when working toward a green standard, but without much innovation in the field over the course of the past 30 years, the PIR sensor as it currently stands falls behind most other smart products on the adoption curve.
And while all industries, groups, and individuals will maintain their own set of qualifications for what to adopt, here are three forward-looking steps that can HVAC professionals can consider ensuring their building is offering the best (and most user-friendly) motion-sensing system for all:
Understanding the Industry
The occupant needs of an administrative office are different from the needs of a medical center. Where a sales office might look toward a motion sensor to connect the lines from the usage of a room to the conclusion of a meeting, a hospital might have needs centered on the medical wellbeing of patients and staff in addition to standard detection services.
In the current era, with remote working an accepted and widespread part of daily life, office needs have transformed from the pre-pandemic norms – with fewer people on-site, and more scattered throughout, occupancy and utilization of utilities can be far more sporadic.
A room could be empty for upwards of 30 minutes before the standard PIR sensor recognizes an absence, or on the other hand, the few in-office participants could be sitting down typing and the PIR might not recognize human presence due to lack of movement. Needs vary across industries, but two strong constants hold true: (1) monitoring services are essential for the safety and wellbeing of any given public space, as well as some private, and (2) such services are long overdue for an upgrade. This introduces point number two.
Consider Radar Technologies
Current PIR sensors are inexpensive and simple to install, but simplicity doesn’t make up for inefficiency when large motion is not generated by the occupant. Recognizing the need for product evolution, new technologies can innovate this system by monitoring what the current PIR cannot. How? Through radar technology.
Sensors detect the human presence and power up the lights, air conditioning, television, ventilation system
Detecting human presence
The device can sense the presence – without cameras and without collecting personal data – by checking in on vital signs, taking continuous measurements of resting heart rate (RHR) and respiratory rate (RR) without any participation from the room occupants.
As soon as someone steps into a Xandar Kardian-installed office, for example, the sensors detect the human presence and power up the lights, air conditioning, television, ventilation system, and once the room becomes vacant, the system knows to power down, turn off the lights, and minimize all HVAC setting within 15 seconds.
Providing an essential solution to the 30-minute lag-time that transpires with the current PIR system, the radar technology effect is immediate. Every added minute of efficiency translates to cost savings.
The radar-based system precisely detects human presence with 99.99% accuracy
For building managers, landlords, and office administrators, the radar-based system not only provides monetary support through efficient and accurate energy consumption but also precisely detects human presence with 99.99% accuracy.
Stepping into the medical field, radar technologies can provide relief and reduce the physical and mental stress of conducting regular spot checks, with no staff intervention required. This form of non-contact monitoring means fewer chances of infection between patients and nurses, instead offering medical personnel more time to focus on their craft.
Beyond making the building smarter, radar technologies can be tremendously beneficial in the hospital to monitor occupant health, counting people to properly follow occupancy regulations, guaranteeing a green standard for office spaces, and beyond.
New radar technologies such as Xandar Kardian are the result of nine years of research and development, innovating the past 30-years of standard PIR technology. For HVAC professionals across office spaces, facility management, business owners, and more, the return on investment for switching from PIR to radar-powered is significant, introducing greater sensor capabilities via vital sign monitoring, swift and accurate people-counting systems, and energy-saving abilities in a post-COVID-19 office environment.
And taking the current COVID-19 landscape into account, the true occupancy sensing in office buildings provides essential insight about unoccupied desks, meeting rooms, and spaces, thus reducing or eliminating the need to over-sanitize, while re-focusing on the area once attention is needed.
The role of HVAC professionals has never been more essential to ensure and maintain smart and responsible spaces. And through the demands of ensuring building security, ventilation checks, proper system management, and everything in between, radar technologies can support the industry to the tune of a more proactive and efficient approach to motion-detecting, energy consumption, and occupancy loading. The future of smart buildings lies in radar technology.