New ams Optical Sensor to Help Reduce Bezel Area on Smartphones Enabling Larger Display Area

Posted Jan 08, 2019 by ams AG

ams AG has introduced an RGB light and IR proximity sensor IC, TCS3701, 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 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.

The TCS3701 is available for sampling now. Unit pricing is $1.25 in an order quantity of 1,000 units.