editor's blog
Subscribe Now

An ALS That Does RGB

My oh my, how the smartphone has colored our (or at least my) expectations. And color is the operative word here.

When you think, “ambient light sensor (ALS)” (yes, I know you think the parenthetical too), what do you think next? That sensor on the smartphone that can tell whether the ambient light is high or low so that it can adjust the display and keyboard backlights and such? Yeah… me too.

So then I see an announcement from Maxim about their new ALS. And it separates out colors. Now… color me stupid, but is it that someone doesn’t want their phone to react if they’re, say, in a darkroom with red light? That would make no sense – because no one uses darkrooms anymore. [Prepares for filmophile rage…]

It’s actually not that crazy; we did cover Intersil’s RGB sensor recently, and we noted there that an RGB sensor can help with tinted glass, but it was also set out in contrast to an ALS.

So here’s me feeling kinda dense, so I checked in with Maxim. Who kindly and gently helped me remember that there are more applications out there than just cellphones. Who knew.

They listed as exemplary applications:

  • Color sensors
  • Contrast sensors
  • Color sorting
  • Gas and fluid analysis
  • Label presence
  • Lid insertion verification
  • Shrink-wrap presence
  • Tamper-proof seal confirmation
  • Visual inspection replacement
  • Automatic display brightness

In other words, there are many sensing applications – particularly in an industrial environment – that benefit from analysis of the ambient light. And that might involve looking at very specific colors or fractions of colors. Which is why they have three color sensors and feed the separate color components for use in detection algorithms.

Now, based on the Intersil definitions, this would be an RGB sensor, as contrasted with an ALS. In Maxim’s terminology, this is an ALS. You can rationalize either nomenclature; I just feel better knowing there might be some miniscule rationale for my occasional lapses into states of confusion. (No need to suggest that they’re more than occasional, thank you anyway.)

Interestingly, though, Maxim focuses on different applications from the ones Intersil was suggesting; Intersil seemed more focused on displays (not just phones, but TVs and such), LED lighting, and cameras – less industrial in flavor than what Maxim has outlined. Which I guess goes to show that there are many ways to use an RGB sensor, or ALS with RGB, or whatever you want to call it.

On the heels of yet another light sensor that senses UV without a specific UV sensor – that is, by using a single visible light sensor that also detects into the UV range, and then extracting the UV by algorithms – I checked in to see whether this truly had three sensors or whether the colors were extracted from a single sensor. Answer: yes, three sensors.

You can find more detail in Maxim’s announcement.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
May 19, 2022
The current challenge in custom/mixed-signal design is to have a fast and silicon-accurate methodology. In this blog series, we are exploring the Custom IC Design Flow and Methodology stages. This... ...
May 19, 2022
Learn about the AI chip design breakthroughs and case studies discussed at SNUG Silicon Valley 2022, including autonomous PPA optimization using DSO.ai. The post Key Highlights from SNUG 2022: AI Is Fast Forwarding Chip Design appeared first on From Silicon To Software....
May 12, 2022
By Shelly Stalnaker Every year, the editors of Elektronik in Germany compile a list of the most interesting and innovative… ...
Apr 29, 2022
What do you do if someone starts waving furiously at you, seemingly delighted to see you, but you fear they are being overenthusiastic?...

featured video

Intel® Agilex™ M-Series with HBM2e Technology

Sponsored by Intel

Intel expands the Intel® Agilex™ FPGA product offering with M-Series devices equipped with high fabric densities, in-package HBM2e memory, and DDR5 interfaces for high-memory bandwidth applications.

Learn more about the Intel® Agilex™ M-Series

featured paper

Intel Agilex FPGAs Deliver Game-Changing Flexibility & Agility for the Data-Centric World

Sponsored by Intel

The new Intel® Agilex™ FPGA is more than the latest programmable logic offering—it brings together revolutionary innovation in multiple areas of Intel technology leadership to create new opportunities to derive value and meaning from this transformation from edge to data center. Want to know more? Start with this white paper.

Click to read more

featured chalk talk

Energy Storage: The Key to Sector Coupling

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Phoenix Contact

Climate change is making better energy storage more important than ever before. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Dr. Rüdiger Meyer from Phoenix Contact joins me to discuss the what, where and how of energy storage systems. We take a closer look at the structure and components included in typical energy storage systems and the role that connectors play in successful energy storage systems.

Click here for more information about Phoenix Contact Energy Storage Solutions