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COVER STORY


Living smarter and safer with Omron Sensors


The COVID-19 pandemic remains at the forefront of people’s minds and the world is looking to utilise helpful technologies to come up with solutions. With social distancing set to become a new norm for the foreseeable future, there are opportunities for sensing technologies to provide extra protection and greater convenience in the environment around us. David Pearson, Technical Director at Anglia Components, introduces a portfolio of Omron solutions that draw on the company’s expertise in presence, proximity, temperature and touch sensing. In addition to typical applications such as security and energy management, we will look at how one of Omron’s sensor ranges are ideal for contactless measurement of raised body temperatures; a coronavirus symptom that can be easily detected by an automated system.


M


any regions across the globe have introduced legislation to try and minimise social contact between people and thus slow


down the spread of the virus. These have ranged from more or less complete lockdown, requiring people to stay in their homes as much as possible, to recent relaxations aimed at restoring limited social interaction albeit from a distance.


Behavioural protocols everywhere are changing, from mandatory face coverings on public transport to use of shared facilities such as office or public washrooms. Businesses are becoming dependent on contactless point-of- sale transactions and Internet shopping for their survival, with new rules for the delivery staff responsible for fulfilling orders placed safely online.


Avoid Touch


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published interim guidance regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus via contaminated environmental surfaces advising cleaning to help remove or significantly reduce virus pathogens as an essential first step in any disinfection process. Another method of effective control can be to reduce physical contact with these potentially contaminated surfaces.


Photo sensors are already widely used to automate equipment such as door openers, hand sanitiser dispensers, bathroom taps and toilet flushers. Contactless operation in such high-traffic applications is effective in reducing the spread of germs.


One challenge with many photo sensors available on the market is that they can be affected by objects in the background of the field of view, intense ambient light, and movement. Omron’s B5W photo sensors get around these challenges by using a Light Convergent Reflective (LCR) sensing method making them inherently less susceptible to variations, allowing the intended object to be sensed reliably and accurately. They have a wide sensing range to allow object shifting and also have a longer detection distance. The sensor’s convergent light beam can be accurately set to trigger on the presence of an object within a tightly specified target area, ignoring any objects in the background or foreground, and are particularly well suited to detecting challenging objects such as those that are reflective, transparent, or diffuse.


Keep it Clean


In other applications such as lift controls or vending machines where contactless operation may not be viable, touch sensors provide a reliable alternative to traditional mechanical switches currently used. Post-coronavirus, the ability to clean a touch sensor more easily than an array of switches has become an attractive option.


Capacitive touch sensors usually require careful design and integration, also complex setting up is often needed to ensure that they work reliably in the application. Omron W7ED capacitive touch sensors have been designed to remove the need for this complex design and setting up requirement, the sensor can simply be fastened to the touch electrode in the system with a screw. Once connected the sensor can reliably detect the capacitance change caused by the presence of a finger without the need to design or incorporate a control PCB or to perform complex sensitivity and calibration adjustments. These self- contained sensors combine the simplicity of a mechanical switch with the advantages of touch control and enable designers to create more aesthetically pleasing products. They can be used with wet hands or when wearing latex gloves as personal protective equipment, permitting additional safety as well as making control surfaces much easier to clean.


8 July/August 2020 Components in Electronics


Non-Contact Monitoring As we endeavour to return back to more normal ways of interacting with visitors to our homes or offices – whether delivery drivers or other contacts such as family members, work colleagues, business associates - a fast, effective and, above all, inoffensive way of checking the health of those we encounter could be extremely helpful.


One of the most obvious signs of infection is a raised body temperature. Being able to detect this in a visitor on arrival can protect occupants and also help warn the individual, who may not know that they could be infected.


Omron’s D6T thermal infrared sensors could provide a convenient solution. These accurate non-contact temperature sensors feature a silicon lens and MEMS thermopile to detect far- infrared radiation emitted from the surface of the face or body. A signal-processing ASIC integrated in the same package converts the sensor output to a digital temperature reading and ensures a


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