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Small Proximity Sensor With New Features And Functionalities

The reduced sensor size means that an earbud can now accommodate multiple proximity sensors, resulting in an improved user experience

The TMD2636 by ams is a fully integrated proximity sensor, which occupies 30% less space than currently available solutions, thereby delivering transformational added value to manufacturers of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds.

Reliable proximity detection performed by one or more TMD2636 sensors enables the earbud to automatically power up when inserted in the ear and power down when removed, maximising power savings when the earbud is not in use while providing the best user experience.

The TMD2636 sensor module integrates a 940nm infrared (IR) Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) emitter, IR-sensing photodiodes, sophisticated control circuitry and a clear-mould overlay in a 2.0mm x 1.0mm x 0.35mm package. The sensor has an average active-mode current consumption of 70µA and 0.7µA in sleep mode. Central are the TMD2636 power-savings benefits, especially in the small battery capacity and size of a wireless earbud product.

The development of the TMD2636 benefits from numerous ams innovations in photodetector technology, optical package design, and factory test and calibration. The design of the TMD2636 provides outstanding crosstalk rejection, high immunity to interference from ambient light and highly effective algorithms which produce accurate proximity detection results. In addition, the TMD2636 digital I2C interface provides a patented solution for two devices to reside on the same bus, simplifying the system design for dual devices.

New Features and Functionality

The overall volume of the TMD2636 is 30% smaller than that of earlier products, offering a miniaturised package to earbud manufacturers and product designers that enables them to incorporate multiple sensors or integrate new functionality using components that could not be previously be accommodated. For instance, with multiple TMD2636 sensors, earbud in-ear detection and power management can be made more intelligent, providing higher reliability and consumer satisfaction.

“Use of the TMD2636 proximity sensor for in-ear detection gives TWS earbud manufacturers new flexibility in product design, providing options to optimise their product’s performance, to reduce its size, or to extend the range of features, which it supports and so differentiate their products in a highly competitive market. The launch by ams of the world’s smallest proximity sensor gives manufacturers new ways to extend battery run-time, optimise designs and deliver a more differentiated and higher value product to the consumer,” said Darrell Benke, Strategic Program Director for Optical Sensors, ams.

“Market analysis suggests the wireless earbud market will grow by 39% in 2021 to more than 350 million units. Manufacturers want the ability to compete in this rapidly growing market. Key to this will be user satisfaction such as design, convenience, battery life, high-quality listening experience and comfort,” said Pierre Laboisse, Executive Vice President Global Sales and Marketing, ams.

The TMD2636 proximity sensor is available for sampling. 


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