STMicroelectronics : STMicroelectronics Proximity Sensor Solves Smartphone
Geneva, February 25, 2013 -- Smartphones are set to become even more flexible
and more satisfying to use, thanks to a unique sensor system developed by
STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving
customers across the spectrum of electronics applications. Combining three
optical elements in a single compact package, the VL6180 is the first member
of ST's FlightSense(TM) family and uses a new optical-sensing technology that
reduces the incidence of dropped calls^ and enables innovative new user
interactions with smartphones.
The VL6180 uses a ground-breaking proximity measuring technology to offer
unprecedented accuracy and reliability in calculating the distance between the
smartphone and the user. Instead of estimating distance by measuring the
amount of light reflected back from the object, which is significantly
influenced by color and surface, the sensor precisely measures the time the
light takes to travel to the nearest object and reflect back to the sensor.
This "Time-of-Flight" approach ignores the amount of light reflected back and
only considers the time for the light to make the return journey.
"This marks the first time that Time-of-Flight technology has been made
available in a form factor small enough to integrate into the most
space-constrained smartphones," said Arnaud Laflaquière, General Manager of
ST's Imaging Division. "This technology breakthrough brings a major
performance enhancement over existing proximity sensors, solving the face
hang-up issues of current smartphone and also enabling new innovative ways for
users to interact with their devices."
The key to ST's patented new solution is an infra-red emitter that sends out
light pulses, an ultra-fast light detector that picks up the reflected
pulses, and electronic circuitry that accurately measures the time difference
between the emission of a pulse and the detection of its reflection.
Combining electronic, optical and packaging unique expertise from across the
company, the VL6180 embeds both a robust ranging time-of-flight sensor and a
wide dynamic ambient light sensor die, along with an infra-red emitter. Thanks
to its all-in-one, ready- to-use architecture, the VL6180 is easy to integrate
and saves the phone-makers long and costly optical and mechanical design
Addressing dropped calls is not the only benefit that ST's new technology
brings to the smartphone market. The ability to measure a reliable absolute
distance from the phone to a hand or other object opens up new user
interaction scenarios that phone manufacturers and app developers can rapidly
exploit. At the World Mobile Congress (Barcelona, Feb 25-28, Hall 7, Booth
E110), ST will demonstrate the proximity sensor performance and some
innovative apps, underlining the Company's commitment to Wireless and Imaging
and the unique combination of strengths ST brings to the market.
ST is a global leader in the semiconductor market serving customers across the
spectrum of sense and power and automotive products and embedded processing
solutions. From energy management and savings to trust and data security, from
healthcare and wellness to smart consumer devices, in the home, car and
office, at work and at play, ST is found everywhere microelectronics make a
positive and innovative contribution to people's life. By getting more from
technology to get more from life, ST stands for life.augmented.
In 2012, the Company's net revenues were $8.49 billion. Further information on
ST can be found at www.st.com
For Press Information Contact:
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+1 781 591 0354
 35% of US smartphone users experience a dropped call at least once a week,
some of which can be caused by accidental hang-ups, according to
STMicroelectronics Proximity Sensor_IMAGE
STMicroelectronics Proximity Sensor
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