An induction or inductive loop is an electromagnetic communication or detection system which uses a moving magnet to induce an electrical current in a nearby wire. Induction loops are used for transmission and reception of communication signals, or for detection of metal objects in metal detectors or vehicle presence indicators. A common modern use for induction loops is to provide hearing assistance to hearing-aid users.
||This section may be too technical for most readers to understand. (November 2012)|
The aerial system of an induction loop installation can consist of one or more loops of a conductive element.
In industrial applications this might be a large single- or multi-turn loop or a complex multi-lobed phase coincident sub-loop design, most effectively mounted above the required reception area in industrial applications.[clarification needed]
An audio induction loop inside of a hearing aid might have one or more loops sometimes with a phase shift between them near the area in which a hearing aid user would be present. Many different configurations can be used depending on the application. Such an induction loop receiver is classically a very small iron-cored inductor (telecoil), although rediffusion demonstrated a prototype Hall-Effect system in its PLL FM system.
The system commonly uses an analogue power amplifier matched to the low impedance of the transmission loop. The transmission is normally direct rather than superimposed or modulated upon a carrier, though multi-channel systems have been implemented using modulation.
Vehicle detection loops, called inductive-loop traffic detectors, can detect vehicles passing or arriving at a certain point, for instance approaching a traffic light or in motorway traffic. An insulated, electrically conducting loop is installed in the pavement. The electronics unit transmits energy into the wire loops at frequencies between 10 kHz to 200 kHz, depending on the model. The inductive-loop system behaves as a tuned electrical circuit in which the loop wire and lead-in cable are the inductive elements. When a vehicle passes over the loop or is stopped within the loop, the vehicle induces eddy currents in the wire loops, which decrease their inductance. The decreased inductance actuates the electronics unit output relay or solid-state optically isolated output, which sends a pulse to the traffic signal controller signifying the passage or presence of a vehicle. Parking structures for automobiles may use inductive loops to track traffic (occupancy) in and out or may be used by access gates or ticketing systems to detect vehicles while others use Parking guidance and information systems. Railways may use an induction loop to detect the passage of trains past a given point, as an electronic treadle.
The relatively crude nature of the loop's structure means that only metal masses above a certain size are capable of triggering the relay. This is good in that the loop does not thus produce very many "false positive" triggers (say, for example, by a pedestrian crossing the loop with a pocket full of loose metal change) but it sometimes also means that bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles stopped at such intersections may never be detected by them (and therefore risk being ignored by the switch/signal). Most loops can be manually adjusted to consistently detect the presence of scooters and motorcycles at the least.
A different sort of "induction loop" is applied to metal detectors, where a large coil, which forms part of a resonant circuit, is effectively "detuned" by the coil's proximity to a conductive object. The detected object may be metallic (metal and cable detection) or conductive/capacitive (stud/cavity detection). Other configurations of this equipment use two or more receiving coils, and the detected object modifies the inductive coupling or alters the phase angle of the voltage induced in the receiving coils relative to the oscillator coil.
An increasingly common application is for providing hearing aid-compatible "assistive listening" telecoil. In this application a loop or series of loops is used to provide an audio frequency oscillating magnetic field in an area where a hearing aid user may be present. Many hearing aids contain a telecoil which allows the user to receive and hear the magnetic field and remove the normal audio signal provided from the hearing aid microphone site. These loops are often referred to as a hearing loop or audio induction loop.
- Loop and infrared systems - for deaf and hard of hearing people (fact sheet) A practical guide from the Royal National Institute for the Deaf in the UK.
- Traffic sensor from How Stuff Works.
- Overview of different possible loop configurations
- "Traffic Detector Handbook". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
- Much more information on audio induction loop basics (Manufacturer's site)
- Walding, Richard. "What are Indicator Loops and how do they work?". Indicatorloops.com. Richard Walding. Retrieved 2007-10-28.