IR sensor startup preps smartphone bid
December 30, 2013 // Peter Clarke
Pyreos Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland), a developer of infrared sensors that spun out of Siemens in 2007, has raised $4 million to help it pitch for design wins in smartphones and tablet computers. The round was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, Seraphom Capital, Siemens Technology Accelerator and the Scottish Investment Bank.
The company reckons its low-power IR technology when applied to gesture and proximity detection consumes about one-thousandth that of competing technologies. Pyreos' passive infrared sensor technology is already in use in industrial gas and flame markets and for handheld spectroscopy in the dairy, winery and lubricant industries.
The Pyreos combined gesture and proximity sensor uses microwatts of power which allows designers of portable consumer electronics to create "always on" and "wake up on motion" gesture recognition equipment. Pyreos plans to launch two products; one that recognizes proximity and gestures at 20cm range and another that performs the same combined function at one meter.
Pyreos makes use of sputtered thin films of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) laid down in a crystalline orientation (111) that provides a spontaneous permanent polarization and a Curie point above 500 degrees C. The IR sensors are manufactured on a silicon membrane MEMS device as uncooled IR sensors and sensor arrays. The peak wavelength absorption is tunable so the sensors can operate from terahertz through infra-red, visible and even ultraviolet.
The applications are similarly varied. Besides consumers electronics they range from spectroscopic materials analysis, through oil, gas and flame sensing, medical applications such as diabetes monitoring and breath analysis for early illness detection.
Claus Schmidt, managing director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH commented: "The design breakthrough they have achieved in reducing power consumption and hence eliminating the long-standing, industry barrier of the battery drainage issue means the potential in mobile and handheld applications across consumer and industrial markets globally, is explosive. The investment will fund growth in the team to extend their established, international customer base further."
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