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New Wireless Sensor System Helps Effective Window Monitoring

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS researchers in partnership with Seuffer, an IIS industry partner based in Calw, have developed a sensor system that can detect whether windows are opened, wide opened, cracked, or closed in a house and transmit this data to a base station installed at the main door.

The sensor nodes embedded in the window frame transmit the data via the s-net wireless sensor. The prototype of the RF node (left) pictured here will be installed in the sensor housing (right) of the finished system. (© Fraunhofer IIS)

The sensor system attached to the window frame can also send remote queries to residents, thus allowing them to monitor windows through their smart phones. The smart window monitor is built upon HallinOne sensor, a three-dimensional magnetic field sensor developed by IIS. HallinOne sensors are already being utilized in washing machines to detect the drum’s exact position.

The researchers have tailored this technology for use in windows, said Klaus-Dieter Taschka, an IIS engineer. A fingernail-sized sensor is fixed in the inner frame to determine handle and sash positions by calculating any variations in the position and angle of a magnet that is fixed at the sash bottom.

The sensor system is capable of providing protection from break-ins as it is a tamper-proof system. It is not possible to remove the magnet without it being detected by the sensor. An RF node consisting of a microcontroller and a radio unit is also embedded in the window frame. The RF node utilizes the IIS-developed s-net technology that enables the wireless transmission of data to the base station at an extremely energy-efficient manner. The base station can be a smart phone, tablet, PC, or even a room controller.

Taschka explained that the s-net wireless sensor network has a multi-hop capability that enables data exchange between sensor nodes themselves as well as with master nodes. The communication range of nodes is 20-30 m, which is the optimum distance between one window and the other. The system is capable of covering vast areas thanks to its multi-hop capability, which makes it ideal for business applications. Moreover, the sensor does not need batteries or cables as it gets the required power from its surroundings using ‘energy harvesting’ technology that allows power generation from sources like ambient heat, sunlight, vibrations and air currents. Solar cells and thermoelectric generators attached to the windows also serve as power sources for this 3-D sensor. A prototype of the window comprising the sensor, solar cell, RF node and magnet is now available. The system anticipated to be ready for volume manufacturing by the end of this year.


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