Startup launches digital pyroelectric sensor

May 19, 2016 //By Peter Clarke
Pyreos Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland), a developer of thin-film infrared sensors that spun out of Siemens in 2007 and is backed by Robert Bosch among others, has launched ezPyro, a pyroelectric sensor with an I2C digital interface.

The component package measures 5.65mm by 3.7mm by less than 1.55mm in height and includes sensor and ASIC processing unit, producing four channels of signals from a digital interface. Pyreos claims it is world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface. The sensor is suitable for the detection of flames, gases, movements and gestures.

Pyreos sputters thin films of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) on silicon in a crystalline orientation (111) that provides a spontaneous permanent polarization and a Curie point above 500 degrees C. This provides response times measured in milliseconds rather than the seconds required by some rival components.

Current consumption for a single channel is less than 3.5-microamps, rising to 72-microamps in high-power mode, compared with figures measured in mA for similar products.

By using a two-by-two array of the components it is possible to capture direction of movement for gesture recognition and the sensor can also be used to detec the concentration of poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide and methane to improve safety, and the build-up of carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxides for environmental monitoring.

Pyreos made a push to extend the application of its technology into smartphones in 2013 (see IR sensor startup preps smartphone bid ) although without any obvious success.

Its major shareholders include Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Scottish Investment Bank, Seraphim Partners, Siemens Technology Accelerator and Braveheart.  All shareholders contributed to an additional £2.5 million (about  $3.65 million) funding package for the company in 2015.

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