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.
Motion detectors are small electronic eyes that detect infrared waves—heat waves that radiate from moving objects. When the detector senses an object moving across its field of view—especially warmer objects such as people, animals and cars—it electronically turns on the lights.
A sensor is a device that detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment. The specific input could be light, heat, motion, moisture, pressure, or any one of a great number of other environmental phenomena.
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.