Invisible helpers – infrared light for the vehicle interior of the future

The car as a simple means of transportation is becoming a thing of the past. Instead, the car of tomorrow will be a mobile extension of our living space, with Infrared light applications taking center stage.

Lounge feeling in the interior. From mood lighting to how you interact with the vehicle, it is becoming increasingly comfortable, cozy and safer in the car.


Smart door opener

Thanks to an application that became well known in the world of smartphones and tablets, in future opening the door will become virtually automatic. With the help of biometric identification, even from a few meters away the vehicle's 3D facial recognition systems will recognize when the driver approaches and can, for example, open the trunk or unlock the driver's door.
Once the user is identified, several other personalized settings can be activated – from the desired seating position and preferred light colors to the automatic playback of music by a favorite artist.

The Oslon Black IREDs from ams OSRAM enable particularly compact system designs and impress with their high optical performance.


The driver stays in focus

Driver assistance systems are enjoying increasing attention, especially safety systems such as driver monitoring.
In driver monitoring applications, a light source illuminates the driver's face with infrared light that is invisible to him. A special CMOS camera – usually with a resolution of 1 to 2 megapixels – records 30 or 60 images per second, depending on the model. The recorded images are evaluated by a downstream system. For example, the direction of driver gaze, or the frequency of eyelid closure is analyzed. The safety system can use this information to draw conclusions about a distraction or increasing fatigue of the driver to warn the driver accordingly.

The Tara2000-AUT from ams OSRAM is the first AEC-Q102-qualified VCSEL flood illuminator for infrared light-based applications in car interiors.

 

 

 

VIDEO: ams OSRAM In-Cabin Sensing
 

Depending on the installation location of the driver monitoring system, the Field of View (FoV) changes, i.e. the area that the system should cover. Consequently, the individual building blocks must match. For the light source, this means illuminating the area in question as brightly and evenly as possible.

The Oslon Black IRED family from ams OSRAM comprises a broad portfolio of high-performance emitters that are ideally matched to these system requirements. VCSELs (short for Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) also offer various advantages for driver monitoring systems. They combine the properties of two lighting technologies: the simple packaging of an infrared LED with the spectral width and speed of a laser.

The Tara2000-AUT from ams OSRAM is the first AEC-Q102-qualified VCSEL flood illuminator. This 940nm device excels in terms of optical performance, allowing multiple, lower-powered emitters to be easily replaced. System manufacturers not only save installation space, they also benefit from the lower number of individual components from a significantly simplified and cheaper system design. Thanks to various optical options, the Tara2000-AUT is not only suitable for driver monitoring systems, but also for applications for monitoring and controlling the interior, the so-called in-cabin monitoring systems.


View of the back seat

In addition to monitoring the driver, infrared light helps to determine the current seating position of the vehicle occupants and to ensure that nothing is accidentally left in the vehicle. The so-called in-cabin monitoring system detects whether you have forgotten your bag in the back seat of a rental car, for example, and alerts you in good time via a short message on your smartphone. This is made possible by a sophisticated 3D time-of-flight (ToF) application.

In-cabin monitoring applications usually consist of a PMD (photonic mixer device) camera, a VCSEL as an infrared light source, and a special detector. Together with the information provided by further apertures, a high-resolution 3D image with corresponding depth information can be generated. Downstream software uses these to determine which object is involved.

 

Touchless control

With the help of infrared light, commands can be captured by hand movements and gestures. Infrared LEDs and VCSELs have their advantages depending on the final product. These become particularly clear when looking at applications for gesture control. Simpler systems usually use discrete components such as a separate emitter and detector. With their help, even simple gestures and movements can be recognized.

Gesture control is one of several building blocks for intuitive interaction between driver and vehicle.


The special properties of the VCSEL, such as the extremely fast switching times of up to 100 14, MHz, enable 3D iToF-based products that can also recognize and process significantly more complex movements and gestures of the driver in three dimensions.


Both more convenience and security

An advantage for the system manufacturer: ams OSRAM can offer a broad portfolio of emitter technologies and performance classes, depending on the desired system architecture and complexity.

In a few years, the driver's cabs in our cars will have a fundamentally different appearance than they do today. Different infrared light sources and sensors in a variety of system architectures will ensure that we will not only be more comfortable but also safer on the road.

> Read more on the Oslon-Black-IRED family 

> Read more on the automotive flood illuminator