Electronica: AMS rolls intelligent sensors

AMS AG announced a new family of intelligent sensors for gesture control at Electronica this week in Germany. The TMG399x line of devices detects gestures and supports barcode emulation.

AMS has improved its previously released three-in-one sensor hub to allow for touchless gesturing in four directions; diagonal gesturing will be available in a few months. The company will release two sensors: the TMG3992 for mobile applications and the TMG3993 for home automation.

“In terms of wireless communications, there will be 1.2 billion of these sensors in the market in 2017, and 40% will be IR gesture,” Ben Jacobs, senior product manager for the devices, told us. “Ambient and proximity gesture will make up the other 60%.”

The gesture engine features automatic ambient light subtraction, crosstalk cancellation, dual eight-bit data converters, and interrupt driven I2C communication. The devices can detect proximity between 5 cm and 15 cm, with two power modes between 1 and 5 milliamps. The chips are supported by the Qualcomm ADSP sensor core and its Snapdragon 600 and 800 processors.

“These new chips are wrapped around a gesture engine,” Jacobs said. “The most critical part of that is it has capability to apply two different detection sensitivities to operate at low power sensitivity mode most of the time, and a high mode when it will start to detect an object.”

That object will likely be a hand gesturing to power a device or manage a display, but AMS has rigged its sensors to detect scanners better. It partnered with Mobeam to create a barcode emulator, which enables smartphones to transmit barcodes to any one-dimensional scanner at retail point-of-sale terminals.

“Due to the reflecting nature of OLED screens in mobile phones, the reliability of scanners to detect or identify code is very low,” said Russell Jordan, senior marketing manager for the optical sensor business at AMS. “A pulse of IR light can emulate… data. With a processor engine on board, it can emulate a barcode or loyalty card.”

The IR sensor essentially acts as an extender for the barcode and mimics other optical transmitters, Jordan said. Using a versatile state machine along with 128 bytes of RAM, manufacturers can generate a variety of optical protocols.

“This is not the last product that you'll see to extend optical sensor technology into consumer products,” he said. “The next generation will include remote control.”

This article originally appeared in EETimes.

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