News | Feb 4, 2020

Navy invents tiny motion detector for marking, monitoring cleared rooms

U.S. Army Green Berets conduct room-clearing drills.

Iman Broady-Chin/Army

A U.S. patent was issued Tuesday for the technology, which is a combination LED and sensor that both marks when military or police forces have cleared a room and alerts when a potential hostile person has entered a cleared area.

Room clearing is part and parcel of military operations in urban terrain, close-quarters combat, and active-shooter responses.

Invented by a team from the Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic that includes scientist Laura Tolliver, the room breach digital sensor alert device hopes to replace traditional methods of marking cleared rooms.

Currently, the military and law enforcement use colored chemical light sticks (known as chemlights or glow sticks) to indicate that a room has been cleared.

Using infrared motion sensor technology, the Navy’s new devices are small, lightweight and alert users when the clearance status of a room has changed.

“The present invention serves as a force multiplier, allowing the military or law enforcement team to not leave a member behind in order to ensure that a previously cleared room is reentered,” according to the Navy’s new patent.

Exploded view of the components that make up the Navy’s “Room Breach Digital Sensor Alert Device.” (Navy illustration)

The LEDs can also display in various colors, indicating the status of the room and changing if someone enters. The devices, which can be fitted with additional features such as the ability to take still photographs and videos, consume very little power and can be left behind or reused.

With the help of technology transfer, private businesses can leverage the Navy’s research and development work to integrate this and other military inventions into their own products and services.

As the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer, TechLink is helping private companies evaluate the device and negotiate mutually beneficial business agreements with the Navy, such as a commercial evaluation license or patent license.

Sean Patten, senior technology manager at TechLink, described the invention as an “ingenious solution” that can save time and money for the military or agencies such as local police departments.

“Sure, chem lights work,” Patten said. “But the increased functionality and ease-of-use of this technology make it an attractive product for SWAT teams, Delta, or DEVGRU.”

For more information contact Sean Patten at or 406-994-7721.