Colour sensor provides platform for handheld colour analysers

11th May 2017
Alice Matthews

Supplier of high performance sensor solutions, ams, has introduced an integrated colour point sensor IC, which marks a breakthrough in the product category, providing improved accuracy while cutting bill-of-materials and production costs for manufacturers of handheld colour analysis instruments. The new AS7261 JENCOLOR XYZ sensor is a complete platform for colour sensing, which eases design-in and simplifies production processes for manufacturers of professional or consumer colourimeters and colour analysers.

Capabilities include:

  • CCT and full-colour sensor which provides direct XYZ colour co-ordinates consistent with the CIE 1931 2° Standard Observer framework. It also maps the XYZ co-ordinates to the x, y (Y) of the two-dimensional colour gamut and scales them to the CIE 1976 u’v’ coordinate system.
  • Multi-channel filter set integrated at the silicon wafer level, providing Dark, Clear and Near-Infrared channels as well as the XYZ colour sensing channels
  • Calibrated CCT, x, y, u’v’ duv and direct sensor count outputs accessible via I2C or UART interfaces
  • Programmable LED driver for electronic shutter control and synchronisation
  • Aperture with integrated lensing built into the device’s 4.5x4.7mm LGA package, deli-vering a ±20.5° field of view for high sensing accuracy
  • A simple text-based AT command set enabling a host microcontroller or processor to con-figure operation of the device

The AS7261’s accurate tri-stimulus XYZ colour sensing capability means that it mimics the human eye’s response curve, known as the ‘standard observer’ colour model as represented by the CIE 1931 and CIE 1976 colour mapping systems. The measurements of white light made by the AS7261 are typically accurate to ±0.002 du’v’ on the CIE 1976 scale. This high performance is maintained thanks to the durable and stable silicon filter set integrated on to the sensor die. The filter is highly resistant to the temperature and ageing effects to which conventional filters are prone, and intelligence integrated into the sensor allows for calibration as part of the manufacturing process. These in-line calibration processes often eliminate the need for end product manufacturers to calibrate each end device on their own production line.

“The ams AS7261 JENCOLOR tri-stimulus sensor represents a leap forward in silicon colour sensing technology. By combining the high stability and precise nature of silicon interference filters with sophisticated calibration capabilities, ams has been able to create the first system-on-chip for colour analysis at consumer price points that delivers precision which rivals devices costing substan-tially more,” said Tom Griffiths, Senior Marketing Manager at ams.

The simplified optical and mechanical design of the AS7261’s package enables rapid integration and systems design. The sensor benefits from competitive unit pricing and can be implemented in an end product design with the addition of just external LEDs and very few other components. The company claims that this means that the design, bill-of-materials and assembly costs are all substantially lower for users of the AS7261 than for products using earlier colour sensor ICs.

“The AS7261 from ams provided us an ideal combination of elements including accurate and stable filter elements and an easy-to-implement design at the right price point. That combination enabled us to leverage the core design of our NODE industrial-standard colour sensing instrument and quickly develop and launch a new colour identification device, the Color Muse, just six months after initiating the project,” commented George Yu, CEO of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based colour sensing expert, Variable. “Innovations such as the ams spectral sensing family are opening new avenues to help us expand our Internet of Color Solutions and will broadly enable a wide range of consumer and portable spectral sensing solutions.”

The AS7261’s combination of superior performance, small size and lower cost is expected to make it popular in handheld devices implementing functions such as paint colour matching, fluid colour analysis, display management, light metering and many other applications for portable spectrometry and colour analysis. Its low power consumption means, that it is well suited to use in battery powered products: it draws a maximum operating current of just 5mA, and works from a 3.3V supply. “The AS7261 opens the door to an entirely new generation of colour measurement devices for mass-market applications such as retail colour matching, display calibration and simplified analysis tools for industrial and consumer use,” Griffiths concluded.

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