It was 40 years ago, in a coffee house in Kyoto, that the idea of OPTEX was born. Toru Kobayashi, an electronics engineer, had a vision for a new business, a business that had sensing technology at its heart, precision technology that could detect the ‘status’ and ‘changes’ of people and things.
Fast-forward to 2019, and this vision is still as important today as it always was, and OPTEX has established a deserved reputation for excellence. In 1980, it developed the world’s first automatic door sensor using far infrared technology, and its teams remain committed to solving complex issues through intelligent sensor design.
In those 40 years, there have been two significant technological developments that have shaped and driven how the security industry has evolved. The first is the evolution of video cameras and dedicated devices to monitor and analyse events; the second is the transition of technology from analogue to digital, and the dominance of IP security systems. These developments have in turn led to the evolution of ‘connected’ devices and the true integration of sensors with video surveillance and video monitoring solutions. This has itself led to the evolution of reliable solutions for high security sites, monitored through a control room, to smaller and/or residential sites monitored via an app.
OPTEX has, of course, not only kept pace with these developments, but has, to a large extent, been driving further innovation as a genuine thought leader. Its substantial Research and Development (R&D) team has not only embraced change but is also constantly exploring new concepts and ideas to further improve the performance of its sensors.
It was, for example, one of the first to bring wireless outdoor sensors to the market in 1983 and has since always supplied wireless models for its passive and active infrared sensors. The convenience and reliability of OPTEX’s sensors generated very successful partnerships with wireless alarm panel manufacturers to provide reliable home security and commercial systems that are very easy to install and configure, and enable OPTEX to deliver a full range of solutions for its customers.
With the increasing popularity of CCTV, OPTEX added to its portfolio with the acquisition of the REDWALL brand in 2001. REDWALL has become synonymous with long-range precision detection and has benefited from further investment from the OPTEX R&D team to integrate with the latest generation Video Management Software (VMS) platforms.
In 2009, OPTEX was one of the very few to introduce laser scanners dedicated to security applications. Many sites now benefit from its award-winning REDSCAN series, thanks to its versatility and almost limitless applications. More recently, it has been partnering with a number of complementary technology businesses to ensure its future generation LiDARs and IP sensors are integral to current and future generation VMS and PSIM-led solutions.
The OPTEX Group now comprises 1,963 employees across 35 companies. It is present in 12 countries, delivering products and services worldwide.
Its competitive advantage has always been around its sensing algorithm know-how. The know-how it has built up through many years of field-based technological development is its most valuable asset, and central to the evolution of its Far-Infrared, Near-Infrared and Laser sensor technologies. It is now taking this knowledge to new levels, using machine-learning and artificial intelligence software to enhance its detection algorithms and introduce greater automation.
But it is not just the company’s technological ‘know-how’,its commitment to quality or its global capability that are essential to its success. Its people are similarly critical. OPTEX uses a locomotive analogy to explain its culture, but rather than the management driving the team, they actively encourage the team to drive the engine forward. It is a collaborative and entrepreneurial culture, and one that empowers every employee to have the same dreams as the original founders.
These dreams are not simply about developing new technologies and solutions; they are also about developing employees as individuals, to build their own skills and talents, and to make a positive contribution to the wider society.