Thursday, February 27, 2014

STMicro's invisible lasers could bring touchless gesture control to smartphones

PCWorld - Using an infrared laser, ST Microelectronics’ new proximity detector for mobile phones can measure distances to within a centimeter or two.

The component could enable future smartphones to repond to more sophisticated touchless commands, distinguishing between as many as eight simple hand gestures, said company representatives on the STMicro stand at Mobile World Congress.

Traditional proximity detectors contain a sensor that detects when a beam of infrared light from an adjacent LED is reflected off a nearby object. While the intensity of the reflected light can give some information about the proximity of the object, this can also be affected by the object’s color or surface finish. Typically, they are placed next to the phone’s earpiece or front-facing camera.

Software running on a demo phone showed a traditional detector responding strongly to objects within about 5 cm, but barely reacting beyond that. The same app also showed the new detector’s response varying proportionally with the distance to an obstacle, out to about 50 cm.    Read More