Electronic Design

Industry's First Integrated RGB Color Sensor Arrives

With a digital-compatible interface, this high-resolution single-die light-to-frequency converter can now be used as a drop-in design component.

Designers can now take a "drop in" approach when adding color-sensing capabilities to their new products. Claimed by its manufacturer as the first integrated RGB color sensor with a digital-compatible interface, the TCS230 integrates red, green, and blue (RGB) filters on a single die. It's built on a high-performance light-to-frequency converter platform that enables 10 to 12 bits or better resolution per color channel without the need for expensive analog-to-digital converters.

The device, developed by Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions Inc., is a programmable color light-to-frequency converter suited for colorimeter measurement applications. "Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for designers to add light-sensing capabilities to their repertoire in new product designs," explains Carlo Strippoli, TAOS vice president of marketing and sales.

A 64-photodiode grid is used, consisting of four types of photodiodes: red, green, blue, and clear for overall intensity information. The photodiodes are interdigitated to minimize the effect of nonuniformity of incident irradiance. All 16 photodiodes of the same color are connected in parallel, and the color the TCS230 selects for use during operation is dynamically selectable via two programming pins. The device can respond to light over a 250,000:1 dynamic range, with a typical output frequency range of 2 Hz to 500 kHz. With two other programming pins, the user also may select output scaling factors of 100%, 20% or 2%, or a power-down mode.

The TCS230 is available now in an eight-pin SOIC surface-mount package for $2.67 in 1000-piece quantities. An evaluation module is available from TAOS Inc. and its authorized distributors.

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