Si-Ware Systems Introduces First Fully Integrated Chip-Sized Spectral Sensor for Industrial and Consumer Markets

Si-Ware Systems

Si-Ware Systems (SWS), a premier provider of IC and MEMS-based solutions for industrial and consumer applications, today introduced the first integrated micro-spectrometer for broad industrial and consumer use. The product, NeoSpectra Micro, is a small, chip-scale, near infra-red (NIR) spectral sensor that quickly analyzes materials onsite without the need to send samples to a lab, enabling dramatic time savings and accurate, actionable data in the field or on the plant floor.

The device is small enough and thin enough to be incorporated into a smartphone case or designed into an existing mobile product. Product applications include scanning for food safety and evaluating soil health, oil and gas composition, and pharmaceutical purity. Delivering the same functionality as conventional “bench-top” spectrometers in labs, the integrated NeoSpectra Micro brings to end-users the ability to immediately quantify composition, detect impurities and ascertain quality, speeding analysis of samples from days to minutes without the need for offsite lab verification.

NeoSpectra Micro builds on the success of the popular and cost-effective NeoSpectra spectral sensing module used by system integrators for the development of industry-specific hand-held and inline spectrometer applications. The device is currently in use in agriculture, petrochemical, and healthcare industries.

A Real Spectrometer – at Component Size

NeoSpectra Micro for the first time brings high-performance spectroscopy to the size and cost of a sensor component. At 18x18mm and only 4mm thick in a self-contained package, it can now be easily incorporated into consumer electronic products. Until now, spectroscopy and material analysis have been notoriously absent from consumer applications due to size, form factor, and cost concerns.

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“Now with NeoSpectra Micro, high-performance material analysis can be a reality in the consumer electronics world,” said Scott Smyser, executive vice president at Si-Ware Systems. “In the same way that inertial sensors, accelerometers, and gyros became small enough and low-cost enough for consumer electronic products – enabling a host of applications for motion sensing — NeoSpectra Micro will open up new and unprecedented applications for material analysis.”

Large Unmet Need for Material Analysis

According to Paris-based market research firm Tematys, the market size for compact spectrometers is estimated at $655 million for 2016 and will grow to almost $1B in 2021. The research firm forecasts that consumer applications will see have some of the largest growth at a 54% Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2021.

Si-Ware Systems

NeoSpectra Micro can be an effective solution for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) targeting the consumer markets, since the integrated device is very similar to components in terms of size and cost. The tiny package includes all the system components: the MEMS interferometer, the photodetector, the light source, and also the electronics chips that perform system control and data processing. This facilitates integration, reduces development risks for system developers, and enables faster testing in different application environments.

Versatility is Key

NeoSpectra Micro not only offers an unprecedented wide spectral range that makes it suitable for many industries, but it is also the only chip-sized solution that operates at higher NIR wave length ranges (higher than 1,150 nm up to 2,500 nm). This extended range enables measurement of more materials with higher accuracy. In addition, it allows measuring samples in different form factors including particles, flat surfaces and even ground samples with no need for sample preparation.

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“There is a pressing unmet need for rapid material analysis and actionable data in a broad range of applications, from consumer and wearables to industrial in-line and on-site quality control and scientific applications,” said Bassam Saadany, Optical MEMS business unit manager at SWS. “Developing a tiny spectrometer at a sensor price point, for out-of-the-box use across many sectors, requires a wide spectral range at the higher end of Near InfraRed. This places NeoSpectra above and beyond any other offerings on the market.”

NeoSpectra Micro Enabling Smartphones, Wearables and IoT

Having a low-cost, miniaturized NIR spectral sensor opens the door for a new wave of usage models for NIR spectroscopy. To showcase the potential of NeoSpectra Micro at Photonics West at the end of January, SWS has designed it into an iPhone case and developed a demonstration iPhone app. The demo app will scan and measure food and coffee to accurately detect and quantify such elements as gluten and caffeine levels. The iPhone case was developed by XPNDBLS, and the spectral analysis algorithms were developed by GreenTropism.

“We are excited to add NeoSpectra Micro to our product portfolio. We believe it will change the way we perceive spectroscopy, taking it out of the lab environment and bringing it into consumer hands.” said Smyser. “Unlike other spectral sensor solutions out there, NeoSpectra is the first chip-scale spectral sensor with the high performance and reliability known for FT-IR spectrometers, the de-facto standard of high precision spectroscopy.”

Si-Ware Systems

In addition to smartphone-based spectrometers, NeoSpectra Micro can also be designed into wearable devices, where NIR spectroscopy can non-invasively measure biochemistries in the body including glucose and ethanol/alcohol. NeoSpectra Micro’s size and cost now enables NIR spectroscopy for the next wave of sensing for the human body, or even as smart sensors in Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

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How NeoSpectra Works

NeoSpectra products are a built around low-cost, miniaturized, Fourier Transform InfraRed (FT-IR) spectral sensors that are based on MEMS technology. The sensors determine the spectral content of the input light, and generates spectrum data corresponding to the measured light. Today, NeoSpectra sensors operate in the NIR spectral range between 1,100nm and 2,500nm, enabling material composition analysis and identification in a wide range of application areas. NeoSpectra technology allows for operation in the mid infra-red (MIR) and future-generation products will offer sensing in the MIR.

Availability and Pricing

Prototypes and development kits for NeoSpectra Micro will be available in Q1 of this year, with production starting in Q4. Pricing is targeted at $100 in high volumes.

SWS at Photonics West

SWS will exhibit its NeoSpectra sensors and demo the iPhone case incorporating NeoSpectra Micro at Photonics West in San Francisco being held next week, January 31st through February 2nd. SWS’s booth is #5164, North Hall, in the Moscone Center.

SWS will also host a product demo: New chip-sized NIR spectral sensor enabling consumer applications. In this demo, SWS will provide more detail on NeoSpectra Micro and discuss the analysis done with the iPhone case. The demo will take place on Thursday February 2nd at 12PM in Demo Area 2, North Hall.

The above press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NetAns. The views expressed within do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of the NetAns.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com