OPTEX: from humble beginnings

June 17, 2024



Masaya Kida, Managing Director of OPTEX Security EMEA, reflects on the 45th anniversary of OPTEX and what it means, discusses the driving factors behind the business’ success and looks ahead at what’s next for OPTEX and the wider security industry.

In May, OPTEX celebrated its 45th anniversary.

When it was founded in Japan in 1979 by electronics engineer Toru Kobayashi and three colleagues, their vision was to build a global sensing technology business with precision and intelligence at its heart.

Today they have achieved just that, with a business that now employs more than 2,000 people across 42 companies and which still has an unwavering commitment to innovating new solutions and ideas that solve the everyday problems of its customers.

SJUK sat down with Masaya Kida, Managing Director of OPTEX Security EMEA to find out more. 

OPTEX has just celebrated its 45th anniversary, what does the milestone mean to you?  

It means a great deal.

We are very proud of how OPTEX has grown from its humble beginnings in a Kyoto coffee shop where Toru Kobayashi and his colleagues first started out, to the global business that it is today. 

None of this success would have been possible without the support of our employees and partners.

They have been crucial to our expansion and success in new regions and markets.

On a personal note, I am particularly proud to have been part of the growth of OPTEX EMEA, one of the most important for the company today.

I would also like to thank our customers for their unwavering support, which has been pivotal to our growth.  

What are some of the company highlights? 

Our focus has always been on uncovering what lies behind a particular problem or challenge.

In understanding the fundamentals, we can then develop a solution that solves the problem over the long term.

Our goal is not simply to react to what is going on around us, but rather to anticipate and identify new markets, new channels and emerging trends that will drive positive change.  

Over the last 45 years, we have continued the OPTEX journey of solving the everyday problems of our customers.

This had led to the development of a broad range of detection systems perfectly suited for diverse applications ranging from critical infrastructure sites to private homes and everything in between.  

There are many milestones and highlights to look back on, from launching the world’s first far infrared automatic door sensor and one of the first wireless outdoor security sensors in the 1980s, to introducing two award-winning solutions for the digital CCTV market in the following decade.

More recently, we pioneered the use of LiDAR (laser technology) for security detection in 2009 with the launch of our first REDSCAN model, the RLS-3060. 

What factors have driven the success of the business? 

One of the key factors is our determination from the beginning to be a leader and not a follower, of trends.

Our relentless focus on research, development and continued innovation has set us apart as we have introduced a wide range of new, versatile detection technologies and solutions that can be utilised across am equally wider variety of applications and environments.

Our success has also come about because of a commitment to invest significantly in the development of original OPTEX sensing and detection algorithms.

Equally, our unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction has been another crucial factor in the company’s success.  

A further factor that drives our success is in our understanding of the true power of collaboration in promoting quality and innovation.

By forming strategic partnerships with industry leaders, from installers and integrators to security alarm panel manufacturers, as well as leading research institutions, we gain access to cutting-edge technologies and insights that further enhance our product offerings.  

What are some of the biggest changes in security technologies over the last 45 years? 

The last 45 years have seen big technological changes for the security industry, but two breakthroughs stand out as having had a lasting impact and really shaped how the industry has evolved.

Firstly, the evolution of video cameras and dedicated devices to monitor and analyse events.

The use of video surveillance for security grew during the 1980s, and when alarms could be transmitted to remote receiving centres via a standard Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN), their use became widespread.  

Secondly, the transition of technology from analogue to digital or IP-based security systems has had a significant impact.

These developments led to the emergence of ‘connected’ devices and the true integration of security sensors with video surveillance and video monitoring solutions.

This gave security teams and end-users the ability to see exactly what is going on at their site and the ability to monitor the entire security system via a control room. 

This led to truly integrated and reliable solutions for high-security sites, such as datacentres and critical infrastructure, and residential sites, where homeowners or security teams can monitor and manage their system via an app on their smartphone. 

As the world becomes more digitally connected, how are customer needs changing, and how is OPTEX meeting those needs? 

Increasingly, we are seeing requests and the need for deeper analytics and insights through data-driven sensors and systems.

At OPTEX, we recognise the importance of not just providing the highest quality and most reliable detection capabilities, but also leveraging data analytics to offer predictive insights, to empower our customers with proactive security measures and optimal performance.

LiDAR systems, for example, can capture vast amounts of data, giving the ability to categorise intrusion types and pre-determine threats.

They are also fully GDPR compliant, only collecting data that is strictly required for security monitoring.

This is just one example of how OPTEX is responding to customer needs.  

Equally, we recognise the power of integration between technologies to create more holistic security solutions in line with customer demands.

By teaming up with a number of our OPTEX technology partners, we have significantly increased the number of IP devices which can be seamlessly integrated with our broad range of ONVIF compliant sensors, software platforms and other technology.

This level of integration, paired with solutions that are user-friendly, enhances control and monitoring capabilities, and helps foster greater operational efficiency and situational awareness for our customers.  

In terms of what’s next for OPTEX, can you tell us about your latest developments and innovations?  

Our immediate focus is on elevating the potential of security systems through smart solutions, which we are achieving with Olarm, a next-generation solution to the security and monitoring markets.

Olarm’s multi-network communicator, Olarm MAX, which we successfully previewed at The Security Event, provides unified security integrations of security panels, alarms and sensors, featuring enhanced connectivity with built-in 2G and 4G.

The software enables all security devices at a single or multiple sites to be managed remotely through the Olarm App, with real-time alerts and status updates giving security teams and end-users complete control of their security system.   

And finally, what emerging or developing trends or technologies do you see shaping or providing new opportunities for the industry over the next five years? 

‘Connected’ devices are already shaping the future of the industry, and this goes beyond the integration of different security systems and multiple technologies, and extends to network security measures, as the need for enhanced protection and encryption protocols accelerates to evade potential cyber-attacks, especially as intruders and criminals become increasingly more organised and sophisticated.  

The use of artificial intelligence will also no doubt increase, with manufacturers looking to harness its power and capabilities to further enhance security sensors and devices, improving both their reliability and accuracy.

At OPTEX, we will continue to anticipate and innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of the market and our customers.

This commitment to innovation, paired with our unrelenting faith in the OPTEX vision – to solve the everyday problems of our customers – will help us remain at the forefront of the industry for the next 45 years and beyond. 

This article was originally published in the June Edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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