SimplexGrinnell to do VSD

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

CHICAGO--It’s only the third North American manufacturer to have a video smoke detection product, but SimplexGrinnell’s launch of its new VSD product was not a splashy affair. Instead, it debuted the product, without much fanfare, in one corner of its large booth at the June NFPA show.

Expect the roll out - officially scheduled for the next 60 days - to be equally low key, slow and deliberate, said company executives.

“The real key is to impress upon the design people that they’ve got to think more like a security CCTV engineer,” said John Haynes, director of fire alarm marketing for SimplexGrinnell. “This is truly a camera … and fire detection [designers, engineers, installers] are not used to thinking in terms of cameras.” SimplexGrinnell is training its field sales and application specialists around the country on all the ins and outs of this product.

Called Alarm Eye, the VSD product was developed by SimplexGrinnell’s parent company, Tyco, in cooperation with WizMart, a Chinese manufacturer. Like the other two products on the market (manufactured by axonX/Fike and DTec), Alarm Eye uses analytics to detect smoke and flame from video footage.

This product differs from others, however, said Jeff Brooks, SimplexGrinnell’s senior product manager fire safety. “Typically with VSD, the analytics are done back at a central computer … in this product all the smarts are inside the unit itself.” The video can be brought back to a central computer where it can be displayed, or further “set up” can be done, such as zoning out areas within the camera’s view.

The product is UL 268 listed as a smoke detector, and works well in the dark because it has infrared sensors. The sensors are used, when necessary, to illuminate the area covered by the camera. “The infrared [capability] isn’t being used to detect smoke or fire, it’s just used to illuminate the area,” said Brooks.

SimplexGrinnell said the product is ideal for “big open spaces,” such as a convention hall, and where there are obstructions such as signage that could interfere with other detection methods such as beam- or spot-detection devices. Tunnels are another potential application.

Tyco has another flame detection device called FlameVision that uses infrared to detect the flicker of a flame. It also has a video component, which is used for video verification, but not for video flame or smoke detection. This product, which is already on the market, is used in special hazard areas like an aircraft hangar.