A motion detector is a device that detects moving objects, particularly people. Such a device is often integrated as a component of a system that automatically performs a task or alerts a user of motion in an area. They form a vital component of security, automated lighting control, home control, energy efficiency and other useful systems.An electronic motion detector contains an optical, microwave, or acoustic sensor, and in many cases a transmitter for illumination. However, a passive sensor senses a signature only from the moving object via emission or reflection, i.e.,
it can be emitted by the object, or by some ambient emitter such as the sun or a radio station of sufficient strength. Changes in the optical, microwave, or acoustic field in the device’s proximity are interpreted by the electronics based on one of the technologies listed below. Most low-cost motion detectors can detect up to distances of at least 15 feet (4.6 m).
Specialized systems cost more, but have much longer ranges. Tomographic motion detection systems can cover much larger areas because the radio waves are at frequencies which penetrate most walls and obstructions, and are detected in multiple locations, not only at the location of the transmitter.
Motion detectors have found wide use in domestic and commercial applications. One common application is activating automatic door openers in businesses and public buildings. Motion sensors are also widely used in lieu of a true occupancy sensor in activating street lights or indoor lights in walkways, such as lobbies and staircases.
In such smart lighting systems, energy is conserved by only powering the lights for the duration of a timer, after which the person has presumably left the area. A motion detector may be among the sensors of a burglar alarm that is used to alert the home owner or security service when it detects the motion of a possible intruder. Such a detector may also trigger a security camera to record the possible intrusion.