Sharp's New Sensor Detects Gestures, Illuminance, Proximity

Jun 24, 2013
Satoshi Okubo, Nikkei Electronics
The "GP2AP050A00F," a proximity sensor equipped with a function to detect the movements (such as gestures) of an object and illuminance sensor function. The three circular parts on the sensor are, from the left, a proximity/gesture sensor, illuminance sensor and infrared LED lamp. Each sensor has light-receiving elements and a signal processing circuit.
The "GP2AP050A00F," a proximity sensor equipped with a function to detect the movements (such as gestures) of an object and illuminance sensor function. The three circular parts on the sensor are, from the left, a proximity/gesture sensor, illuminance sensor and infrared LED lamp. Each sensor has light-receiving elements and a signal processing circuit.
[Click to enlarge image]
A demonstration of enlarging/shrinking an image by moving a hand
A demonstration of enlarging/shrinking an image by moving a hand
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When a hand is moved away from the screen, the image shrinks.
When a hand is moved away from the screen, the image shrinks.
[Click to enlarge image]

Sharp Corp developed a proximity sensor equipped with a function to detect the movements (such as gestures) of an object and illuminance sensor function.

It is the industry's first sensor that can detect gestures, illuminance and proximity, Sharp said. The company will start to ship samples of the sensor, "GP2AP050A00F," June 28, 2013, and begin volume production in September 2013 at a monthly rate of three million units. It is targeted mainly at smartphones and tablet computers.

Sharp is now in business negotiations with other companies. And a smartphone equipped with the new proximity sensor is expected to hit the market within 2013.

With the capability to detect gestures, illuminance and proximity, it becomes possible, for example, (1) to move, switch, enlarge and shrink an image displayed on a smartphone screen by moving a hand near the sensor, (2) to change the brightness and color of the display in accordance with the brightness and color of the environment and (3) to prevent malfunctions by stopping the touch panel function when the user is talking on a smartphone and the user's face (cheek) comes close to the touch panel.

Sharp expects that there is a strong demand for such a function for use in high-value-added smartphones. The company predicts that high-value-added smartphones will account for 15-20% of smartphones in the future and that such a trend toward high added values will be strong among new entrants especially China-based phone makers.

The dimensions of the proximity sensor are 5.6 x 2.1 x 1.25mm (H). Its footprint is larger than that of a package that can detect both illuminance and proximity and is contained in smartphones, etc (4.0 x 2.0 x 1.25mm (H)). But, because their heights are the same, the new sensor can be embedded in a smartphone without difficulty, Sharp said.

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