Optex Redscan Reviewed

Published Jun 08, 2012 00:00 AM
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Perimeter detection products are notoriously prone to false positive alarms. Optex REDSCAN claims it minimizes this problem with technology not found elsewhere. In this note, we examine REDSCAN, analyze the technology behind it, and contrast it with other perimeter technologies.



REDSCAN [link no longer available] is an intrusion detection sensor that uses 'laser based' detection, compared to common PIR, photoelectric (PE) beam, or microwave detection technologies. The product is designed to be less prone to false alarms than other sensors. Optex positions the product as an addition to 'video verification' systems, where this unit is used to trigger PTZ movement to specific locations.

  • Laser detection up to 200 foot, 190 degree detection range (depending on unit orientation)
  • REDSCAN has up to 8 gross detection zones designed to facilitate PTZ positioning
  • Integrated with a number of leading VMS platforms
  • Product only sold through trained integrators
  • MSRP pricing $5300-$6000 per unit

See sidebar image of the REDSCAN sensor. The unit is IP65 and IP66 rated, and a version with an onboard heater for cold environments is available.


Laser detection is more sensitive than other technologies, because it 'actively' scans an area for movement changes, rather than alarming based on temperature changes in the detection area. For example, a PIR sensor compares heat energy within a scene from one interval to the next, and a slowly moving object may fall beneath detection sensitivity. See our PIR Selection Guide for additional detail. Laser detection is different because it rapidly scans a scene for active movement, and regardless of how slowly an object is traveling, its movement and velocity are detected.

Because laser detection is very sensitive, false alarms can be a problem. Optex claims that REDSCAN solves this by including firmware algorithms that normalize or 'learns' potential outside environment triggers such as foliage movement, rouge reflections, insects, and precipitation.

Unlike 'traditional PIR' sensor technology, REDSCAN's emitter assembly features no fixed facets, and zone sensitivity or exclusion zones are definable to specific X/Y coordinates, not coarse detection regions. While traditional PIR detectors may be limited to 15 or 20 zones, REDSCAN permits dynamic exclusion of objects within the entire area.

Optex has announced integrations with Milestone [link no longer available] and Genetec [link no longer available] VMS platforms. This integration entails sending alarm messages to the VMS platforms via ASCII strings. REDSCAN features a built-in Ethernet encoder module that allows a direct connection to a switch, and the unit has the option to be PoE+ powered.

Currently, REDSCAN is limited for purchase and install by Optex certified integrators. Optex does not intend for REDSCAN to be available for general purchase from distribution, but rather takes direct involvement in training an integrator on-site during first installation. In part because REDSCAN is more complex than most sensors, and additionally because it represents a different type of detection technology, Optex takes a 'hands-on' approach to ensure that training is complete and comprehensive with each integrator.

The pricing for this product will exclude it from consideration for general perimeter detection. The $5300+ price tag places well beyond more simple, coarse detection technologies. The product is positioned to be an answer for high-end, very sensitive or dynamic detection areas that overwhelm traditional detection technologies. Optex claims the most receptive vertical markets for the product are critical infrastructure and high-value installation like museums.

Competitive Comparison

While REDSCAN cannot be compared to an technicaly equivalent product as laser-based detection sensors are uncommon,  other technologies accomplish similar goals of wide area outdoor monitoring.

Optex makes it clear that REDSCAN is best positioned as an alternative to microwave and ground-based radar detection technologies. These detection methods are typically employed in mission-critical type of applications, and Optex is marketing REDSCAN towards the advanced end of the intrusion detection market.

Long range PIR and PE sensors, like those manufactured by Takex [link no longer available] and Optex, are commonly available for a fraction of the cost of REDSCAN. While these products are more prone to false alarming and lack onboard processing, they equal or better REDSCAN's modest coverage radius. If false alarming proves to be an issue, several of the more of these simple sensors can be wired in combination more inexpensively than a single REDSCAN unit.

Video analytics, either with day/night or thermal cameras are an alternative to REDSCAN. With day/night cameras, the total price is likely to be half (or less) than REDSCAN. However, accuracy issues are a concern especially in low light conditions. By contrast, combining analytics with thermal cameras will increase the cost to a similar range as REDSCAN. However, the accuracy levels are likely to be similar.