A modern smartphone needs more than a front-facing camera in facing the user. In fact, the most common front-facing sensor is the light and proximity sensor, and now a major Apple iPhone supplier has created the technology which allows this sensor to be buried behind the screen.
ams, a leading worldwide Austrian supplier of high-performance sensor solutions announced the release of the TCS3701, an RGB light and IR proximity sensor IC which can accurately measure the intensity of ambient light from behind an OLED screen. This capability supports today’s industrial design trend to maximize smartphone display area by eliminating front-facing bezels, where an ambient light/proximity sensor is typically located.
By developing this ‘Behind OLED’ ambient light/proximity sensor, ams enables smartphone manufacturers to achieve the highest possible ratio of display area to body size while retaining crucial touchscreen disablement and automatic display brightness/color adjustment functions, which require an RGB/infrared light sensor.
Despite the constraint of operating behind an emissive OLED display screen, the TCS3701 senses the addition of the ambient light passing through the display to light emitted by the display’s pixels located just above the sensor. ams has developed unique algorithms which enable accurate detection of ambient light levels without knowledge of the display pixel brightness above the sensor.
Light transmission through an OLED screen is limited by its opacity, but the TCS3701’s ultra-high sensitivity to light means that it can still produce accurate light measurements in all lighting conditions.
The TCS3701’s 2.0mm x 2.5mm x 0.5mm OQFN package is small enough to be placed behind a smartphone’s OLED screen. It gives a smartphone designer the flexibility to mount an IR emitter to support the proximity sensing function in the best front-facing location. Cross-talk compensation algorithms provide for reliable proximity sensing performance.
“Smartphone OEMs today are striving to maximize their products’ screen-to-body ratio, reducing the bezel area as much as possible on the display’s face,” said David Moon, Senior Marketing Manager at ams. “The TCS3701 enables phone designers to take this trend to a new level, potentially eliminating the bezel entirely. This is only possible because the TCS3701 can operate behind an OLED display, a breakthrough enabled by the outstanding sensitivity of the device and by the implementation of sophisticated measurement algorithms to compensate for the optical distortion caused by the OLED display.”
The TCS3701 is available for sampling now. Unit pricing is $1.25 in an order quantity of 1,000 units. For more technical information and to request samples or an evaluation board, go to ams.com/TCS3701.