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Mysterious IR Array

Our bodies have evolved on practical, not principled, grounds. So we have one sensor for photons in the visible spectrum, and we have a completely different sense for photons at wavelengths just longer those in the visible range. One we perceive as light; the other as heat.

But in fact, we now know, intellectually, that they’re just different frequencies of the same thing. It just doesn’t feel that way.

Well, Bosch has taken a page out of the physiology book with its recent infrared detector array. Instead of detecting photons, it also detects heat. They use a porous silicon membrane plus diodes to generate an image that’s admittedly not high-res. And not intended to be.

This isn’t about badass pinpoint-perfect night vision; it’s about low-cost industrial or other applications where resolution per se isn’t the goal. Perhaps you’re trying to distinguish human from animal. Or monitoring train bearings to make sure they’re not overheating.

In fact, this sensor didn’t originate in the consumer Sensortec division; it’s marketed out of the automotive division, which makes me wonder whether they had (or have) a specific auto application in mind. Or perhaps “locomotive” is close enough to “automotive”… (or does that sound crazy?)

I’d send you to a release for more information, but… they didn’t issue one for this. I’d send you to a web page… but I can’t find one (I haven’t found a way to get to these kinds of products on Bosch’s website… it’s all about higher-level modules and systems… even Googling doesn’t help). It was just a conversation I had at the MEMS Executive Congress. I’d say, “You saw it here first,” except perhaps, “You saw it here only” is more appropriate. And has me wondering, “Did I really have that conversation??”

So perhaps your friendly neighborhood Bosch Automotive salesperson would be the next step if you want more info…

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