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White Goods

ams optical sensing technology enables new levels of convenience and quality with real-time monitoring and control for washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators. Our multi-spectral sensors in the visible and near IR spectrum let you ‘see into the water’ to determine detergent effectiveness and rinse quality using competitively-priced precision components. This chip-scale sensing includes a range of offerings that can detect color, particles, and turbidity in water or sense different types of fabric or textiles. Possible new capabilities include: direct detection of detergent concentration; spectral imaging for ovens; and non-contact monitoring of food freshness.

Getting more intelligent, white goods will be able to tell no user is present and reduce power consumption by turning off the display. This uses 1D time-of-flight sensing to monitor for user presence and can also be used for basic gesture recognition.

Other ams capabilities to support major appliances include: proximity and ambient light sensing for user display management; high-resolution image sensing; and position sensing for motor control and door monitoring.

Smart Home and Building Automation

People are familiar with functionality like robot vacuum cleaners. Smart equipment – like a smart oven and a smart refrigerator – is only the first step. Having 2D, 3D, and spectral imaging sensors will enable so much more functionality in a smart home limited only by the designers’ imagination. Think for example how your HVAC system can optimize heating or cooling based on not just whether someone is in the room, but depending on who is in the room. Smart functionality enables both comfort and energy efficiency.

Even the light gets smarter. Instead of choosing which color temperature light you need based on a number on a box, you can often just take it home and switch to pre-select options to see which color tone looks best. ams enables selectable and tunable lighting to be realized with precision and component cost savings through its complete line of smart lighting managers. Room monitoring technologies continue to expand, and our complete line of spectral and ambient light sensors provide important insights that today’s smart assistants, smoke alarms, or intelligent thermostats need to make the best decisions to manage the user’s comfort and safety. 

Security Access Control

3D face authentication significantly increases the convenience of access control, while providing a high level of security. You can lose your keys, badges, or PIN codes. With 3D face authentication, you are the key, providing an unmatched convenience level for residential and commercial access. ams delivers key components for 3D face authentication from the VCSEL-based emitting flood and dot pattern illuminators to the highly sensitive receiving image sensors. Reference designs including software are available; making the adoption of 3D face authentication based on ams’ key components and software a simple and fast process.

Most of the market is still using 2D face authentication, however and 3D anti-spoofing is a key feature for this application. Normally, authentication systems are too power hungry to be left ‘on’ all the time. A solution for this is to use 1D time of flight which can operate with lower power and trigger the authentication system to turn on when someone approaches.

Household Robotics

Household robots, prominently vacuum robots or robotic mowers, have become popular in recent years. Time-of-flight and 3D sensing adoption is used in these robots for mapping the area in front of the robot. This enables recognizing and avoiding small objects like cell phone charging cables, as well as our pets and the ‘obstacles’ they might leave for us. Combined with multi-spectral technology to recognize floor materials or garden conditions, high resolution imaging and large field-of-view depth mapping, processes can be optimized on the fly. ams optical and spectral technology is at the forefront of these challenges, covering all the bases, from the small details like sunlight immunity to big-picture items like absolute precision and extended lifetime. Key sensor challenges are resolution, precision, range and power consumption.

ams 1D time of flight can be used to support the 3D sensor by monitoring the blind spots outside the 3D sensor field of view. Or it can be used for cliff detection or as a main clearance sensor for lower cost robots.

The ams position sensors also help motor drives of household robots to control the torque and speed more precisely for increased motor power by lower power consumption and reducing the motor size.