Top 8 sensors used in smart office IoT applications

There are an estimated 97 billion square feet of office space in the U.S., a number expected to grow by a third in the next three decades. Given the massive global scale of commercial offices, technology that increases a building's efficiency, safety and comfort has been widely adopted.

Sensors are at the core of this technology. Here are the eight most common IoT smart sensors in the workplace, with detail on how IoT sensors are used for office automation solutions.

Smart Office Temperature Sensors

If you’ve ever had to wear a jacket at your desk or sit in a meeting room that's uncomfortably hot, you can understand the importance of temperature sensors in smart offices. OSHA recommends temperatures in a workspace should be between 68 - 76°F. Fortunately, the days of sweating through a meeting are becoming.

Modern office buildings have large and complex HVAC systems that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These systems often utilize temperature sensors distributed into grids to inform them about which areas should receive additional ventilation, cooling, or heating in order to maintain comfortable working conditions. For example, office spaces that face south often have higher day-time temperatures than office spaces that face north, requiring each space to have distinct cooling and heating capacities throughout a working day.

Humidity IoT Smart Sensors

OSHA also sets recommendations for humidity in workspaces, which range from 20%-60% relative humidity. However, these humidity recommendations are not made exclusively for the sake of the occupants' comfort.

Mold and mildew can be significantly propagated in the presence of enough moisture. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that relative humidity should be kept below 50% to mitigate mold growth and that black mold is able to grow in relative humidity environments above 55%.

Additionally, lower relative humidity may discourage the presence of dust mites and other pests.

With proper implementation of humidity sensors and other IoT smart sensors, if the humidity sensed in an office space goes over its required setpoint, the HVAC unit that supplies the space can take proper measures to dehumidify it.

Carbon Monoxide Sensors

Carbon monoxide is a toxic, gaseous poison that is produced by both natural and unnatural processes. It can cause poisoning and death. In urban areas, a high density of internal combustion engines can lead to high concentrations of carbon monoxide, leading to poor area quality in office spaces.

Carbon monoxide sensors are often required by building codes as a means of protecting occupants from poisoning, and are subsequently utilized in IoT air quality sensors in office spaces. Smart IoT carbon monoxide sensors indicate when levels are increasing at a dangerous pace and notify occupants that unhealthy carbon monoxide levels may be reached.

Motion Detection Sensors in the Office

IoT motion detection sensors are used to understand if an office space is actively occupied. Secondarily, IoT motion detection sensors are used to trigger smart building features such as smart lighting or smart heating/cooling.

Motion sensors are most commonly found in areas of sporadic occupancy, such as washrooms and storage spaces. When motion is detected, these sensors are able to send information to the building's camera system or turn on lights and exhaust systems.

Learn more about how motion sensors work.

Smart Contact Sensors

The ability to detect when an object is open or closed can also be valuable to building efficiency and occupant safety. For example, knowing whether a window is left open on a hot summer day or a cool winter night can have long-term impacts on building efficiency and energy consumption. Additionally, electromechanical switches and contact sensors can be used to tell when security-critical spaces are accessed.

Infrared Sensors

IoT smart infrared sensors can be used for a multitude of different smart-building applications. Infrared sensors can be used passively to detect motion and even detect certain light sources such as flames. Active infrared sensors can be used to detect motion and distance to an object and are often utilized in smart security systems where a patron’s proximity or direction of travel should be understood.

But smart infrared sensors are used most often for motion detection of humans in spaces where other types of motion are also present, such as dark factories or baggage distribution terminals.

Smoke Sensors

Traditional office fire mitigation systems often rely on the presence of a flame to burst a fire sprinkler head. However smart buildings aim to find the source of fire before there is ever a flame. As such, smart smoke detection sensors are utilized in grids to detect smoke and indicate the location of the smoke source. This allows building operators and engineers to detect fires before they start, which can be extremely critical in office spaces, manufacturing areas, storage facilities, and other smart building applications.

Audio Sensors

If you have spent a significant amount of time in an office space, you may have noticed that an office can be oddly quiet when fully occupied, even if people are talking. This is often thanks to white noise generators that are commonly used to ‘drown out’ sporadic noises generated by occupancy. For these smart white noise generators to work ad hoc, audio sensors and audio processors are often used to understand non-white-noise frequencies and amplify or reduce white noise as needed.

Future of IoT Smart Devices in the Workplace

The IoT is continually improving and optimizing office spaces around the world. IoT smart devices in the workplace are making spaces more efficient, safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.

While this list of sensors includes the most common sensors we see in the IoT workplace today, there is no doubt that technology will continue to innovate in automized office spaces. Smart buildings will continue to flourish, use less energy, and rely on IoT technology to support day-to-day operations well into the future.

Learn how Arrow’s IoT offerings provide solutions from Sensor to Sunset™.


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