Omron has developed a small, contactless high sensitivity infrared thermal area sensor using MEMS technology.
Intended for use as a human presence sensor in low power consumer devices, it can also be used for other applications such as with the camera of a smartphone.
“Here is an application called the ‘Too hot to eat sensor'”. Our sensor is placed under the camera of the smartphone, and the sensor detects the actual temperature of objects. So for example, when the image of this mug is displayed, and I press the “Too hot to eat” button, we can find out the temperature of the liquid inside the mug and whether it is drinkable. Although this is not a very serious application, this is just one way in which this technology can be used.”
Pyroelectric human presence sensors rely on motion detection, so they are unable to detect the presence of objects that are not moving, but by using a thermal human presence sensor, non-moving objects can also be detected.
“It can tell if there is someone present, so it could be used in security systems that sound an alarm if a person is detected. On the other hand, it can also detect if there is no one present, so it could also be used to save energy, by turning off lights, or turning down air conditioners.”
If the sensor is connected to a PC, it can turn the monitor on or off as needed. As it can check the temperature in a particular area with high precision, it can read the temperature of a person’s hand and can therefore be used a gesture input device.
“Our MEMS detects infrared light, and converts it into electrical signals which are used to measure the temperature. We create MEMS to the ASICs all in-house, so the quality of the connection between the ASIC and MEMS is the most distinct feature of our products.”