How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 1471

How do the automatic doors at a supermarket know when to open and close? How do they work? — KL
Devices that sense your presence are either bouncing some wave off you or they are passively detecting waves that you emit or reflect. The wave-bouncing detectors emit high frequency (ultrasonic) sound waves or radio waves and then look for reflections. If they detect changes in the intensity or frequency pattern of the reflected waves, they know that something has moved nearby and open the door. The passive detectors look for changes in the infrared or visible light patterns reaching a detector and open the door when they detect such changes.
         

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