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SENSORS & TRANSDUCERS Infrared makes multi-finger gesture control affordable By Christoph Hammerschmidt Gesture control, already commonplace in consumer electronics, is also finding increasingly acceptance in the automotive environment. So far however, deployment is restricted to upmarket vehicles - for the affordable market segment, the technology is too expensive. Continental now has developed a technology to tap this market segment too. With what Continental calls an “infrared curtain” the company can offer a cost-effective alternative to capacitive touchscreens. In 2011 the company showcased a system that allowed designers to turn any desired surface in the car into a user interface by means of such an infrared curtain. In the meantime, the system has been further developed to recognise and interpret typical multi-finger gestures like swiping, zooming and pinching. Unlike capacitive touch screens, the infrared technology permits operation if the user wears any type of gloves. The infrared curtain consists of a row of infrared diodes at the edge of the display. While in one-finger gesture HMI concepts, a single row of LEDs was sufficient, recognising multifinger gestures requires multiple interconnected rows of infrared light sources. In order to detect a multifinger gesture, the HMI electronics interprets the blocked light beams as the finger position. In large-scale production this technology is more cost-effective than current capacitive touch screen displays, says Continental developer Fook Wai Lee from the company’s Singapore R&D branch. “The challenge lies in the integration: Our goal is designing IR light source that protrudes only very little over the display surface while being recognising reliably the multi-finger gestures.” The technique will enter series production in 2017. As usual, Continental did not reveal the customer, but usually this kind of announcement takes place only when at least one carmaker has designed the respective product into a series vehicle. PNI Sensor offers wearables development kit PNI Sensor Corp. (Santa Rosa, Calif.), a subsystem company that integrates sensors and integrated circuits from third parties and adds value with data fusion software, is offering SENtrode, a smartwatch-sized development kit. The platform is intended to allow the development of wearable equipment and products for the Interent of Things (IoT). The SENtrode includes inertial, pressure and magnetic sensors, an optical heart rate sensor, a sensor hub SoC and an STMicroelectronic F4 microcontroller, sensor fusion algorithms, programmable processor and wireless capabilities into a bracelet-sized form factor. Users can select Bosch, ST or InvenSense inertial sensors. The Bluetooth capability is provided by ST’s Blue/NRG transceiver. On development kit comes in the form a of smartwatch enclosure and is suitable for the development of smartwatchs, activity and wellness monitors. A second version comes in a box-shaped housing suitable for IoT development such as home appliances and connected sensor networks. PNI Sensor Corp. www.pnicorp.com Tri-axis accelerometers go thinner Kionix Inc. (Ithaca, New York), the MEMS subsidiary of Rohm Co. Ltd., has announced to thin full-functional tri-axis accelerometers: the KX112 (2.0mm by 2.0mm 0.6mm) and the KXCJB (3.0mm by 3.0mm by 0.45mm). At 0.45mm thick the KXCJB is half the thickness of its predecessor. The model KX112 offers 8bit or 16bits of resolution and 2048bytes of FIFO/FILO buffer. The unit includes digital algorithms for detecting motion for power management, free fall for device protection or warranty monitoring, an orientation engine for portrait/landscape detection, and tap/double-tap for user interface functionality. Model KXCJB, measuring 3 x 3 x 0.45 mm thick, supports the move towards thinner smartphones, tablets, PCs, and HDDs as well as activity monitors and smartwatches. It offers 8, 12 or 14bit resolution acceleraton selectable between +/-2g, +/-4g or +/-8g. “Among the many innovations and numerous firsts in the company’s history, Kionix was first to develop the tri-axis accelerometer in 2004, followed by introduction of the first ‘thin’ 0.7mm tri-axis accelerometer in 2013,” said Nader Sadrzadeh, President and CEO of Kionix. “We’re constantly pushing physical and technological barriers. Our proprietary technology has allowed us to break boundaries once again to introduce a new lineup of full-featured ‘ultra-thin’ low-power accelerometers. While these initial products (the KX112 and KXCJB) are suited primarily for mobile, PC/tablet and wearable applications, we’ll continue to expand the portfolio to include automotive and heavy-duty industrial applications as we enter into 2015.” Kionix Inc. www.kionix.com 40 Electronic Engineering Times Europe January 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JAN 2015
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