Plessey launches ultra-low cost version of EPIC electric potential sensor

15 June 2012

Plymouth-based Plessey Semiconductors has released an ultra-low cost version of its award-winning EPIC sensor that provides remote electric field sensing for high volume consumer markets.

A novel electrode design has been devised to replace the expensive titanium dioxide electrodes currently used for the higher end, medical applications of EPIC technology.  
The new sensor, going by the catchy name PS25451, is an ultra-high impedance, non-contact, solid state electric potential sensor that can be used for a variety of consumer electronic devices such as proximity switching of lighting, gesture-based remote control of interactive toys, computer games, TVs, monitors, other appliances and presence detection for security/alarm systems.  
The EPIC sensor is a completely new area of sensor technology and works by measuring tiny changes in an electric field in a similar way to a magnetometer detecting changes in a magnetic field even at a distance and through clothing. This enables it to be used for security motion sensors and non-contact electrical switches as well as medical applications detecting heart beats, nerve and muscle activity either by dry contact (ie no gels required) or contactless.
Dr. Keith Strickland, Plessey's Technology Director, explained, "EPIC sensors can be used in an extremely wide variety of applications so we have created a product family that enables customers to select the most appropriate sensor solution according the application's requirements for cost, operational range and sensitivity. The new electrode design for the PS25451 is formed on the copper track of the circuit board that is then covered by the normal protective resist."
EPIC sensors are already in commercial production by Plessey Semiconductors. By adjusting the gain and bandwidth amplification circuitry, the sensors can be tuned for detection at a distance as required.

Production pricing for the PS25451 is less than $1 in volumes above 50,000. It is supplied in a custom 3D package with exposed pins for surface mount assembly and measures 10mm x 10mm x 2mm, which is also pin compatible with the existing PS25401 EPIC sensor.


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