IEE brings new sensing product to the States

Could leftover automotive technology offer some of the benefits of video analytics?
Monday, February 1, 2010

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Luxembourg manufacturer IEE Sensing has U.S. headquarters here for a reason: For 20 years, the company has been manufacturing sensors that detect when you’re sitting in your car’s set, to trigger things like those annoying seat-belt beepers and to turn on passenger side airbags. As an engineering-driven firm, IEE said it is constantly looking for new technology, in this case a head sensor—basically a camera designed to tell whether there was a person in the seat or not by detecting whether there was a head there or not.

“Unfortunately, the car makers didn’t want that,” said Mike McGovern, who’s recently come aboard to run sales for IEE’s nascent Security & Safety division. So, in looking for other applications for the technology, IEE came upon security. It turns out head-sensing is great for applications like anti-tailgating, people-counting, direction alarms and other solutions that have been created by video analytic companies, for example.

“When someone presents a badge,” said McGovern, “I’m looking for one head. If I see two heads go through the door, I set off an alarm.”

This capability has intrigued Karen Ladd Baker, senior VP at the Protection Bureau, which has the new sensors in the lab for testing.

“We’re looking to incorporate it with an access control system,” Baker said. “Our customers are facing more restrictions and are more accountable for who’s in their buildings for auditing purposes. They want anti-passback solutions, but they don’t want their employees to be inconvenienced.” She sees potential for coordinating the number of cards and number of people that pass through a door in a very easy fashion.

The product can be used as a standalone product, and has an ethernet connection so that you can log into its on-board software through a browser and see statistics, say, of how many people have passed in each direction, or how many people are in the room, or how many people have been in the room. McGovern sees applications for retail, especially, and the company’s first deployment is as a people counter in a small retail operation in Michigan.

However, though IEE provides an API for integration with access control systems, Baker said initial tests show it won’t be an especially easy integration. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be a pain,” she said, “but right now it looks to be a bit of a challenge ... I think the comment from the engineer was, ‘It’s not going to be an instant solution.’”

McGovern said to look for the company at ISC West and other major trade shows in 2010.