As OPTEX celebrates its 45th anniversary, we reflect on the journey that began in 1979 in Japan. Founded by electronics engineer Toru Kobayashi and three colleagues, OPTEX set out with a clear vision: to build a sensing technology business centred on precision and intelligence. Over the years, this vision has translated into a spirit of innovation and a commitment to solving the everyday problems of our customers through advanced technology.

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The early days – opening new doors and possibilities

Before 1980, automatic doors relied on pressure mats, which were prone to frequent malfunctions. These mats were easily damaged by high heels or bad weather, and often failed to detect children due to their light weight. Recognising the potential of infrared technology, which was then used primarily for military purposes, Toru Kobayashi pioneered the development of the world’s first far-infrared automatic door sensor. This breakthrough not only enhanced the reliability of automatic doors but also paved the way for the first wireless outdoor security sensors.

Tackling false alarms – enhancing security sensor reliability

False alarms have always been an issue in security systems and this problem was particularly significant in the early days of security sensors. These false alarms could lead to serious consequences, such as security personnel ignoring genuine alerts. In 1988, OPTEX addressed this problem by introducing double conductive shielding to protect sensors against radio frequency interference (RFI) and intense light, significantly improving their reliability and accuracy. This innovation marked the beginning of a series of advancements and processes (including the running of 150 quality tests on our sensors) that have established the reliability of OPTEX sensors as a standard in the industry.

Optex quality tests

Embracing digital transformation

The 1980s and 1990s saw a surge in video surveillance for security, with alarms being transmitted via the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and later the Integrated Switch Digital Network (ISDN). OPTEX capitalised on these technological advancements by introducing two award-winning innovations in 1998: Wonder Track, a digital event recording system, and the Vision security control panel. OPTEX continued to develop and investigate new technologies for use in the security sector, particularly in the challenging outdoor environments. In 2004, we released the world’s first long-range outdoor protection system with in-built digital communication capability.

Pioneering LiDAR technology for security

In 2009, OPTEX revolutionised security detection with the introduction of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology through its first REDSCAN sensors. Featuring precise detection using X&Y coordinates, this IP-ready sensor improved the accuracy of detection systems and opened new possibilities for various high-security applications.

Advanced algorithms – reducing false alarms

OPTEX's continued commitment to reducing false alarms led to the development of the Super Multidimensional Analysis (SMDA) algorithm in 2010. This advanced signal recognition logic enables our sensors to learn from their environment, ignoring normal environmental changes such as light fluctuations, vegetation sway, or small animals. SMDA set a new industry standard for false alarm reduction.

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Meeting security demands

In response to evolving market needs, OPTEX continued expanding its range of outdoor and indoor detectors. This expansion has enabled us to offer solutions tailored to the diverse needs of our customers, resulting in one of the most comprehensive portfolios of security sensors available. Additionally, the application of technologies also has expanded into new applications. In 2018 we launched the above-ground OVS vehicle detectors for automatic gate activation and vehicle counting. These sensors are ideal for sites where ground loops cannot be installed, such as on damaged or unsealed surfaces, paved with cobblestones, or above drains or pipes.

Continuous innovation – enhancing LiDAR with an integrated camera

OPTEX's original REDSCAN LiDAR series has evolved to address modern security challenges, particularly in narrow spaces where traditional systems struggle. The REDSCAN Pro series, launched in 2021, became the world's first security LiDAR with an integrated camera. In 2023, the REDSCAN mini-Pro sensors were introduced, featuring fully integrated IR cameras for real-time verification. These innovations ensure that OPTEX’s LiDAR systems remain at the forefront of security technology.

Optex redscan corridor detection

Forever forward

Technology continues to evolve at pace. As we write this article, OPTEX’s R&D team continues to investigate new technologies, compatibility with secure protocols and new integration standards, such as the LoRa protocol, to enhance connectivity and communication in intrusion detection.

From its humble beginnings in a Kyoto coffee shop, OPTEX has grown into a global company with one of the broadest range of security detection systems in the industry. We protect homes, businesses and also some of the most critical sites in the world. Our commitment and focus remain unchanged: solving everyday problems for our customers with innovative solutions.

Thank you for trusting, partnering and supporting us over these last 45 years!