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Valor Fire Safety Uses Light to Detect Smoke
 
Published Tuesday, March 17, 2015

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Everyone has bad memories of a dorm or apartment building where false alarms caused by burning toast or steam from cooking had them outside in their pajamas in the wee hours of the morning. Valor Fire Safety in Londonderry developed technology to prevent that using infrared and blue light to detect smoke particles in the air. The company claims it will detect actual fires earlier without any false alarms.

The technology uses ESP. No, not mental powers, but External Sampling Photoelectric technology that quickly flashes infrared and blue light in a room to detect smoke, determine what the particles are and process whether a smoke alarm is needed. Smoke has a different particle signature than steam and other “nuisances” like cooking aerosols that can set off detectors by mistake.  

“Traditional smoke alarms have a chamber and smoke must enter the chamber before it detects it. We eliminate the chamber and use the room as a virtual chamber,” says founder and CEO Matthew Erdtmann. He says it detects smoke in the open air, setting the alarm off earlier. And because it does not require a chamber to work, the technology allows manufacturers to create smoke detectors that can be mounted flush with a wall or ceiling.

Formed in 2012, Valor does not produce smoke alarms. Rather it licenses its technology to smoke detector manufacturers. “We found early on that entering this market on our own as a small company would be a very tough go,” Erdtmann says. “We decided our strategy initially would be to develop [intellectual property] and license IP to manufacturers. Instead of beating them, we decided we’d rather join them.”

Valor has licensed its technology to a European manufacturer so far, which will have its first product with Valor’s technology on the market by the third quarter. “We are talking with other companies in the United States and abroad for additional licensing,” Erdtmann says. Three partners founded the company and bootstrapped Valor. Erdtmann was inspired to develop the technology after firefighters were called to a neighbor’s house where the fire alarm went off due to smoldering wires in a kitchen appliance. However, firefighters had to use a thermal scanner to locate the source of the smoke, says Erdtmann, whose background is in thermal imaging. That inspired him to develop a smoke detector based on similar technology.  For more information, visit www.valorfiresafety.com


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