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Shining a Light on Gestures; Johnson Controls’ Infotainment Play; Vibration Cancellation; Sensing Lithium-Ion Overheating

Shining a Light on Gestures

Melexis (melexis.com) has released a new active light sensor interface, the MLX75030, designed to make touch gesture commands more recognizable to automotive infotainment systems charged with carrying them out. 

 

The sensor incorporates two ambient light measurement channels and two for managing reflection, which, Melexis notes, makes it ideal for human-machine interface systems where a variety of background lighting is possible, as in a moving car. It’s designed to enable multi-channel, close-range optical sensing systems where touch screen swiping and zooming gestures are the commands. 

 

The MLX75030 controls the system’s LED current and measures the photodiode signal, which is translated into digital form by an integrated 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The MLX75030 is offered in a 4 mm  × 4 mm, 24-pin surface mount package, or as a bare die. Melexis says the sensor supports operational temperature ranges of 40°C to 105°C. 

 

The company also announced a new tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which couples an analog pressure sensor with a low-power sensor interface. The MLX91802 system has a 16-bit reduced instruction set computing (RISC)-based microcontroller and is ready to use with Melexis firmware, according to the company. That gives the sensor an advantage because any TPMS incorporating it can be developed without any custom software engineering. 

 

The TPMS is operational at temperatures ranging from -40 °C to 125 °C. 

 

 

The Melexis Active Light Sensor Interface is designed to better understand touch gestures in infotainment systems. 

 

Johnson Controls’ Infotainment Play

No longer content to sit on the sidelines of the infotainment sector, Johnson Controls (johnsoncontrols.com) is getting into the game.  JCI will roll out its first infotainment system on a to-be-named global vehicle launch in a 2014 model year vehicle program. The company says it plans to leverage its acumen in hands-free telematics and human machine interface (HMI) technologies for a “full” infotainment system. One year later, JCI says it plans to bring driver interaction electronics, on both the safety and the information side, to a new level. The 2015 model year system will run on a several platforms—Linux, GENIVI, Android and QNX. 

 

JCI seems to be following the path of several suppliers trying to bring consumer applications and cloud-based products consumers enjoy on their phones and tablets into the vehicle through a more open hardware configuration.  “Infotainment and information applications currently running on multiple operating systems will be fused together in a comprehensive driver information package that is intuitive, safe and scalable for vehicles,” said Lee Bauer, vice president of Infotainment, Johnson Controls Automotive Electronics and Interiors. “Multiple operating systems that can run in their own hardware space without modification will be the cornerstone of bringing automotive embedded infotainment and driver information into a cloud based future.”

 

 

 

Vibration Cancellation 

 

When you think about Bose (bose.com), audio systems or noise-cancellation earphones come to mind. What do they have in common? They deal with frequencies, or sound waves. Vibrations.  Volvo Trucks has announced that it is now the first North American truck manufacturer to offer factory installation of the Bose Ride system—a seating system. It uses sensors that detect motions thousands of times per second to within 0.01 in. The information is analyzed by a proprietary algorithm. A regenerative amplifier powers an actuator—it delivers 3,500 W while drawing an average 50 W from the battery—that powers a pneumatic system that actively counteracts the vibrations.

 

 

 

Sensing Lithium-Ion Overheating

 

The well-being of the lithium-ion battery has always been a concern in the auto industry, one that has spread to a more mainstream audience with the recent Federal grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner because of the batteries’ capacity to overheat.  

 

TIAX LLC (tiaxllc.com) has introduced a new lithium-ion battery safety system it says can both detect and pre-empt short circuits inside the battery. Shorts, of course can lead to fires, or in the worst case scenarios, explosions. 

 

“Lithium-ion battery technology has been a great boon to portable electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets, and to electric drive vehicles,” said TIAX president Kenan Sahin. “Detecting internal shorts in lithium-ion cells before they lead to safety hazards has been elusive until now, and has been described as the ‘holy grail’ of lithium-ion battery safety enhancements.”

 

The system utilizes multiple sensors paired with signal processing algorithms, which TIAX says works with any lithium-ion battery chemistry. It also is sturdy enough to handle automotive temperature standards and can be incorporated into existing battery systems without the need for cell design alterations, TIAX says. 

 

TIAX also is developing an instrument that incorporates the sensor that will allow battery developers to design safer, longer lasting, lithium-ion battery packs.

 

The sensor system was funded, in part, through a competitively won multi-year award under DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program.  

 

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