Alps Alpine Develops Ambient Air Sensor Module for COVID-19 Prevention

Monitoring of the Surrounding Environment with High-Accuracy Sensing of CO2, Temperature, Humidity and Other Parameters

Alps Alpine has a devel-oped an Ambient Air Sensor Module to perform high-accuracy sensing of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, temperature and humidity in the immediate surrounds. The module could be used in places like restaurants and entertain-ment facilities to monitor indoor ventilation, temperature and humidity indoors as part of COVID-19 prevention measures. Other sensors can be included, too, for detection of PM2.5, vola-tile organic compounds (VOCs) and alcohol. Alps Alpine will proceed with market research with a view to deployment of the module for diverse applications, such as energy-saving func-tionality in major appliances to help combat global warming and automotive features to stop drivers falling asleep at the wheel, contributing to safe mobility. Mass production is scheduled to begin in fiscal 2022.

Background to the Development

Despite progress made in the development of vaccines, there is still no end in sight for the global COVID-19 pandemic. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has suggested three characteristics common among places where clusters of infections emerge – they are closed spaces with poor ventilation; they are crowded with many people; and people engage in conversation or speech there in close proximity (within arm’s reach). Various strategies have been introduced to prevent infections. For example, businesses operating spaces where people gather in close quarters, such as restaurants and entertainment facilities, have limited entry, shortened hours, implemented hand sanitizing and temperature taking, and ensured ventilation.

In regard to ventilation, in particular, ensuring constant ventilation with windows or doors open the whole time can affect the temperature and humidity inside, making it difficult to maintain a pleasant environment. The other option is routine ventilation, with priority placed on regulation of temperature and humidity. The problem here, though, is it is hard to tell whether the level of ventilation is actually effective in preventing virus transmission. This has heightened the need for high-accuracy CO2 sensors – for determining optimal ventilation timing – and high-accuracy temperature and humidity sensors – to help restore comfortable conditions after the disruption caused by ventilation.

Alps Alpine has advantages in the sensor technology domain and has developed sensors to measure changes of a wide range of parameters besides CO2, temperature and humidity, including air pressure, load and electric current. These sensors have been integrated into diverse products, such as automobiles, consumer electronics, smartphones Ambient Air Sensor Module and industrial equipment. Using this expertise, we have developed a Ambient Air Sensor Module that can contribute to COVID-19 prevention.

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