Good question! We don't use motion controlled automatic lighting in the main living areas pretty much for this reason. However, my daughter has taken to reading in her bedroom lately and I'm beginning to realize that I need more intelligence in the bedrooms/library. Somehow, the house has to know that a room is occupied even if that person isn't moving.

Definitely a bit of a perplexing problem. I'm thinking that it has to be a hybrid solution. Perhaps an IR beam at the door could trigger "sensing mode". In this instance, if the PIR fired after the IR beam was broken within a 5 minute timeframe then "occupied" would be set and the light would remain on. Conversely if the PIR didn't fire, then the light would go out.

Of course, if somebody was in the room reading and another person walked in then walked out again then the system might falsely conclude that the room was unoccupied...

Ideally, some sort of active detection is required. We can easily tell if a room is occupied by sight alone so ultimately, detection has to be either visually or IR driven by a sophisticated pattern recognition program.


Interestingly, this capability is closer than we think:

Home Automation using a Microsoft Kinect
Thanks for the response.

I had a similar problem and found this moiton sensor that detects direction: Direction Sensor.

It works very well IF you have a way to put it across the doorway. In our case, I put it on a hallway rail and aim it across the bedroom door. The rail abuts the bedroom wall and I was able to drop cable down that wall for the hookup so that only the device (without visible wires) shows and it is hardly visible since the color matches the raile.

I hooked it up to a couple of outputs in (and power from) the Elk M1, and then came up with some rules that were designed to count entries and exits. The only problem is the sensor sometimes picks up activity in an adjacent area, and it then screws up the counting cycle and the lights go on or off when you don't want them to....

But it was better than waving every x minutes at a Leviton ceiling mounted sensor.
Interesting to see a commercially available directional sensor! I actually developed one myself back in the 90's but couldn't get a reliable room occupant count from it. Looks like it might be worthwhile reviving the experiment.
Fortress is now weather aware! I'm using data from a local weather underground station that I harvest every 15 minutes using a powershell script. I'm also obtaining cloud cover data from a local METAR station every hour. Observations are correlated then updated graphically and can be viewed by any computer running the HCA client including wall mounted displays. More interestingly, the house now has a real good idea of just what exactly is going on outside:


Fortress is currently tracking temp/pressure trend along with rainfall data. Rising temp trend is indicated by the red thermometer shown. I use a blue thermometer for falling temp trend. The radar map zoom can be adjusted in 60 mile increments by pressing the up or down arrows (they're transparent so you have to look closely to see them) on the left side of the map.

Additional possibilities are intriguing: I can have the house announce weather warnings such as windchill factors when we first get up in the morning. I'm also looking at additional ties to the HVAC system such as automatically placing the system into heating/cooling mode based on temp trends.

For anyone else interested in importing weather data without spending an arm and a leg on a weather station I posted a writeup on how the powershell script works along with the script itself on In it I also describe how to find your nearest weather underground station. While I'm using HCA's scripting capabilities to generate server side html that is being rendered by a local webserver, the script itself will pretty much work out of the box for any automation program that can import weatherlink data. The thread is here: