Ultra-small proximity sensor for TWS earbuds

February 17, 2021 //By Rich Pell
Ultra-small proximity sensor for TWS earbuds
Sensor solutions company ams has introduced a fully integrated proximity sensor for space-constrained wireless earbuds that it claims occupies 30% less space than currently available solutions.

The TMD2636 proximity sensor, says the company, delivers transformational added value to manufacturers of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds.

“Use of the TMD2636 proximity sensor for in-ear detection." says Darrell Benke, Strategic Program Director for Optical Sensors at ams, "gives TWS earbud manufacturers new flexibility in product design, providing options to optimize 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, optimize designs, and to deliver a more differentiated and higher value product to the consumer.”

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. This maximizes power savings when the earbud is not in use while providing the best user experience.

The TMD2636 sensor module integrates a 940-nm infrared (IR) vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) emitter, IR-sensing photodiodes, sophisticated control circuitry, and a clear-mold overlay in a 2.0 mm x 1.0 mm x 0.35 mm package. The sensor has an average active-mode current consumption of 70 µA and 0.7 µA in sleep mode.

The design of the TMD2636, says the company, provides outstanding crosstalk rejection, high immunity to interference from ambient light, and highly effective algorithms that 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.

With an overall volume that is 30% smaller than that of earlier products, says the company, the sensor offers product designers new freedom to incorporate multiple sensors or to 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


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