LONDON – Infrared sensor company Pyreos Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland) is using its thin-film infrared sensor technology industrial and medical spectroscopy analysis but also to move into consumer applications in motion and gesture sensing.
The company reckons its technology could provide the lowest power solution for gesture recognition and therefore be the best fit for mobile consumer equipment such as mobile phones and tablet computers.
Pyreos was formed in July 2007 and was assigned patented IP related to the use of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) has an infrared sensor material by Siemens AG.
The Pyreos makes use of the fact that high-quality sputtered thin-films of PZT can be formed in an advantageous crystalline orientation (111) that provides a spontaneous permanent polarization and a Curie point above 500 degrees C. The IR sensors are manufactured using semiconductor deposition processes on a thermally insulating layer on a silicon membrane MEMS device. This allows the production of uncooled IR sensors and sensor arrays.
The technology is flexible allowing a tunable frequency and peak wavelength absorption so that sensors can be made to cover the range from terahertz through infra-red, visible and even ultraviolet absorption. It is also varied in application including spectroscopic materials analysis, industrial oil, gas and flame sensing, medical applications such as diabetes monitoring and breath analysis for early illness detection.
And while working to develop a range of packaged sensors the company has been well backed. Pyreos closed a Series A round of $5 million with Siemens, Scottish Venture Fund and Braveheart plc in 2008. In 2011 it closed a Series B, also worth $5 million, with Seraphim Capital and Mitsubishi-UFJ joining investors. In 2012 Robert Bosch Venture Capital contributed to an $8 million round of finance.
Pyreos' solid-state structure is sensitive to mid-IR and stable from -30 to +150 degress C. Source: Pyreos.
Sounds like a neat idea, I am left wondering about the details. What is the range, resolution for the sensor arrays and how much processing power is needed to support the gesture recognition? I would like to know more (please).
I wonder if the real reason for using IR is that it can obtain full illumination in light or dark without annoying the human user. A bright light coming from the sensor would be annoying - especially if people intended to be viewing a screen in the dark.
Certainly an IR style sensor would be good for low-light recognition in a way that using a CMOS image sensor would not.
But one wonders how necessary gesture recognition would be for handheld devices. The use case in television and other more remote equipments is more obvious.