AN innovative technology that turns inexpensive door bells or smoke alarm buzzers into air quality monitors has received recognition from England's Institute of Physics (IOP).

The Technology Partnership (TTP) was last week presented with the IOP Innovation Award for its SonicSense technology.

TTP is a group of over 350 scientists, engineers and business innovators with in-depth industry expertise, whose mission is to turn great ideas into reality.

The SonicSense technology turns the piezoelectric disk sensors used in doorbells or smoke alarms into highly accurate, stable and low power gas sensors, which theoretically means any home can have a very sensitive sensor to detect even low levels of gas contamination.

Piezoelectric disks deform under certain forces and generate an electric pulse that triggers a beeper.
The technology is already in use by Philips Healthcare in its oxygen concentrators, which are used by millions of patients stricken with respiratory diseases, but the TTP is working with other partners to commercialize the technology under a development and licensing agreement, and bring it to other applications, such as energy and industrial safety.

"The sensor is used to monitor the purity of the oxygen concentrators' gas output and triggers an alarm if the purity is too low," said Bob Murdoch Philips Healthcare, Director of Advanced Development. "SonicSense offers several advantages compared to current sensors including a long operating life, enabling concentrators to run for tens' of thousands of hours. Furthermore, it doesn't require periodic re-calibration, which would be impractical in patients' homes, and the low power-consumption enables concentrators to operate effectively on battery power."

The IOP Innovation Awards are presented annually to businesses that bring new physics-based products, processes or services to market that improve profitability and jobs.