Yes – I know – sensors are those small beige things alarm manufacturers pin on the back walls of their stands at security expos – boring things that aren’t interactive and that most people ignore. Well not this time. One particularly cool Siemens detector now has its own fully programmable GUI that could be programmed locally and remotely – unheard of.This GUI gives authorized techs and users the ability to adjust functions like sensor range, sensitivity and target area using remote PCs. It’s a feature you wouldn’t install in ordinary domestic premises but for commercial and industrial applications the ability to address sensor functions without driving 2 hours across town to fiddle with sensor pots is a real step forward.Oddly, it’s seems that since the development of multi-pyro PIRs, mirror optics and dual technology sensors, not much has changed in the world of alarm sensors. Sure, there’s been very clever digital signal processing from some enterprising manufacturers – Bosch, Crow, Pulnix, DSC, Paradox and the old Alarmcom spring immediately to mind. But despite some stand-outs, the fundamentals have stayed the same for a very long time. Given this it’s a pleasure to write about Siemens’ new programmable alarm sensor – especially seeing it comes in the wake of Direct Alarm Supplies release of the excellent Rokonet WatchOUT external dual technology detector. It’s not fair to say there’s never been an external PIR – Crow’s sweetly designed Double and Dual has been the benchmark outside for many years – but it’s great to see new designs and improvements in technology reaching the market in the shape of alarm sensors this clever. These new sensor designs will haul quality alarm installation out of the mire of mere commodity – and not before time. The benefits of products like WatchOUT aren’t limited to increased protection for security managers when upgrading their existing systems. Installers and integrators with genuine sales ability aren’t going to have too much trouble pushing alarm installations outside of buildings and into areas that used to be the domain of very large guard dogs with very big teeth.And it goes without saying the bigger the job, the bigger the invoice. It’s not just in the area of sensors where the pace of development in alarm technology is hotting up. It used to be that LCD was a singing, dancing luxury when it came to user interfaces. But now some keypads – congratulations Siemens and DSC – are so good looking you’d hang them on your wall just for the fun of it.Again, benefits derived from improvements in keypad aesthetics and design are not only the preserve of end users. Beautiful front ends like that of Siemens’ Sintony 60 match the glitzy image of Apple Computer’s snazziest creations and they’re going to make the sales job easier than it’s ever been before.