Improvements in glassbreak technology shatters the market

Sunday, May 1, 2005

The pendulum is swinging back toward perimeter protection as glassbreak sensors improve and their use increases.
In the early years of security, noted John Kovach, director of the global sensors business for Honeywell, companies used foil, and shock and vibration sensors on windows to protect buildings from the outside.
Then, as labor costs rose, the focus moved from extensive exterior protection to interior systems using motion detectors. Acoustic glassbreak sensors, which appeared in the 1990s, "got a black eye because they weren't selective enough in their sound detection," Kovach said. As a result, he said, the response to poor performance was to turn down the detection capabilities "so it didn't set off a false alarm, but it also didn't detect the glassbreak either."
However, said Kovach, improvements gained over the past five years have put the emphasis back on using glassbreak sensors to protect building exteriors. "It's a value to our installers and their customers because it provides a first line of defense," he explained.
Kovach said finding the right acoustic solution for glassbreak sensors "is very much a numbers game. Many people can get to 90 percent accuracy, but getting that next 10 percent is the hardest."
A team from Honeywell's Ademco and C&K businesses provided the development and technology input that lead to the company's FlexGuard product that was introduced in June 2004, he said.
Steve Connor, product marketing manager-sensors at GE Infrastructure, Security, said there has been an increase in the installation of acoustic/shock sensors and improvement in their false alarm prevention capabilities.
One GE model listens for three areas along a sound curve, he explained, which rules out some of the high and low sound problems.
Another detector requires both the sound of breaking glass and the shockwave to set off the alarm.
Pascal St-Cyr, regional sales manager for western Canada at Paradox Security Systems Ltd., agreed that glassbreak sensors are improving, but said they still remain more of a commercial application because of their cost.
"The cost of glassbreak is what keeps people from adding it" to residential installations, he said. Motion detectors still cover a greater area, so only one detector is needed versus two or three glassbreak sensors for the same space.
Therry Brunache, sales manager for Crow Electronics Engineering, has witnessed increased interest in glassbreak sensors.
But Kovach said to get dealers on board with glassbreak requires education on its use and its installation. "It helps dealers to get involved with perimeter protection," he said.