EVERLIGHT IR Optical Sensor Zeros in Smart Application Market


Dr. Christian Merfort, Business Development Infrared of EVERLIGHT. (All photos courtesy of TechNews)

(Author: Angela Yang//Translator: Philip)

With sensors being a critical component for mushrooming smart Internet-based devices amid the IoT current, optical sensors have emerged as the mainstream item, boasting widespread applications, in smart mobile devices, wearables, and security equipment, among others.

Taking advantage of its expertise in optical technology and assembly, EVERLIGHT Electronics, a leading Taiwanese LED supplier with over 30-year history in the line, has jumped onto the optical-sensor bandwagon. During electronica 2016 in Munich, a biennial event, the company showcased a whole series of infrared (IR) optical sensors.

Ambient light sensor has extensive applications

One highlight at EVERLIGHT's booth was ambient light sensor (ALS). Dr. Christian Merfort, an expert of IR business development of EVERLIGHT, explains that ALS can detect light in surroundings, similar to how human eyes sense light, and then adjust luminosity automatically. EVERLIGHT's ALS, says Dr. Merfort, features 550 nm wavelength, which is because human eyes are sensitive at 550 nm. Analog type of ALS consists of an photodiode and an amplifier IC and is capable of transmitting precise and clear signals, barring interference of noise. Digital ALS supports I2C (inter-integrated circuit) digital communications interface and can also abate noise.

Already with widespread applications in smart mobile devices, ALS can adjust backlight of screens, in line with ambient light, alleviating weariness and discomfort of human eyes. "There are two reasons why ALS is so important to human life. Energy saving and more functionality," remarks Dr. Merfort. In addition to ambient light sensing and automatic adjustment of luminosity, ALS can also be applied in IoT and smart cities, according to Dr. Merfort.

For example, continues Dr. Merfort, streetlights furnished with ALS can automatically adjust its luminosity according to skylight. So does auto headlamps with the sensor. With the assistance of ALS, solar panels can detect the position of the Sun and turn its angles accordingly, so as to maximize exposure to sunlight.

Integrated multi-function solutions applicable in medical and security

Given the emerging demand for multiple applications from IoT and wearables, integrated multi-function solutions of optical sensors have become increasingly important. Dr. Merfort notes that health and medical care is a market with great potential for optical sensors. A smart watch, for instance, can detect the heartbeats of wearers, thanks to the function of optical sensor and green LED, or accurately measure the oxygen content of blood, thanks to the use of optical sensor, red LED, and IR LED in detecting the reflective optical signals penetrate into human skin.

Another important application is security surveillance. Furnished with ALS, a surveillance camera can detect insufficient light after dark and trigger IR LED to increase luminosity, thereby facilitating its work. With 16-bit high resolution, color light sensor (CLS), a high-end ALS, can detect not only luminosity but also the respective luminosity of red, blue, or green light, capable of zeroing in on surveillance objects in clothes with different colors; it, therefore, can be applied in security systems of airports. It is also applicable in production lines, which can be suspended upon detection of deviation of colors of workpieces under process.

Whole series of EVERLIGHT IR products on display.

Also on display at EVERLIGHT booth was Ambient Light and Proximity Module (APM), which couples with Proximity Sensor (PS) and IR LED for application in smart mobile devices. On top of sensing surrounding luminosity and adjusting backlight of screen, APM can detect distance of objects, automatically shutting down screen and touch functions whenever user's face approaches the device and resuming the functions after the user draws back, thereby saving energy.

IR Products Boast Handsome Potential

With "light" as its core business, EVERLIGHT has been diversifying its operation via heavy R&D investment, which entails complete product lineup meeting plural market needs. It now boasts total capacity of 6,800 kk, 25% of which for IR products, making it the world's largest IR product supplier. Merfort has a rosy outlook for ALS, saying its sales will continue growing slowly and constantly. 

Dr. Merfort believes the ALS market will continue growing slowly and constantly.

Dr. Merfort points out that IR products have three major application markets. First is smart metering. In its effort to build smart grid, the EU has asked member countries to substitute smart meters for existing meters entirely, inducing demands for Photo couplers and IR LED. Having received many inquiries from customers, EVERLIGHT has listed smart meter as a major target market next year, according to Dr. Merfort.

Second is medical application. Dr. Merfort cites as an example disposal self-testing device for cancer, which can rapidly measure the cancer index via blood testing. Third is application in automation, especially in view of the fast development of robots, for which optical components are indispensable.

In an era of rapid technological progress and industrial evolution, EVERLIGHT has remained single-minded in upholding its technological lead. Dedicated to its core business, EVERLIGHT has been actively deploying for next-stage development and forge ahead with a solid team and technological strength.

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