Physical Technology – Sensors and Tags

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OPINION: WIKIPEDIA tells us “In the broadest definition, a sensor is a device, module, or subsystem whose purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment and send the information to other electronics, frequently a computer processor.

A sensor is always used with other electronics, whether as simple as a light or as complex as a computer.” We have sensors with us and all around us every day – there are over a dozen sensors in your mobile phone, sensors turn lights on, announce your arrival in a store, detect whether goods are being stolen, sensors tell you where your car is in proximity to things around it, your burglar alarm is a motion sensor and those counting strips across the road are one of the crudest forms of sensor.

Sensors are the main determinant of efficiency. They count and report. Nevertheless, we are just at the beginning of the use of sensors – their deployment into the built environment is only just beginning as is the counting and reporting. Their use in shopping centres, office buildings, industrial structures, and infrastructure such as road and rail is in its infancy.

Sensors will be able to detect pathogens, chemical leaks and corrosion alerting us to disasters before they occur. Sensors can track continual movements meaning pathways are better understood leading to better design. Sensors will tell us when physical things deteriorate such as roads, buildings, pipes and cables allowing us to fix things before they break meaning less disruption and lower costs.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags – an Australian invention – are mostly used in proximity or vicinity applications. Examples of proximity applications can be found in room keys, entry tags and many retail goods. Examples of vicinity applications are as tracking devices for parcels. RFID tags are most commonly used in logistics and supply chain monitoring, inventory management, access control, library management, real time locations and authentication (anti-fake).

In the future you may choose to be implanted with sensors and RFID tags to deliver numerous health and safety benefits.

RETAIL/OFFICE/INDUSTRIAL: As well as throughout our built environment in public and private spaces tags and sensors can help us better manage our built environment by providing us with knowledge about the amount of use, the duration of use, the impact of use, the time of use and distance and purpose of travel.

By Tony Crabb, national director, research, Cushman & Wakefield.*

Australian Property Journal