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Light Sensing

How ActLight’s DPD Enhances Smartwatch Displays and Heart Rate Monitoring

By June 17, 2024No Comments

Smartwatches have revolutionised how we interact with technology on a daily basis. Combining timekeeping with health monitoring, notifications, and other smart features, these devices are indispensable. ActLight’s Dynamic Photodiode (DPD) technology stands out as a critical innovation that enhances smartwatch performance, especially in the realms of display adaptation and heart rate monitoring.

The Importance of Ambient Light Sensors in Smartwatches

Ambient light sensors are crucial for optimizing smartwatch displays. They allow the device to adjust its brightness and contrast in response to surrounding light conditions, ensuring that the display is always clear and readable, whether under the glare of the sun or in a dim room. Traditional sensors often struggle to provide quick and accurate adjustments, which can lead to poor visibility and unnecessary battery drain.

ActLight’s DPD technology offers a significant advancement in this area. Unlike conventional sensors, the DPD operates dynamically, adjusting its sensitivity based on the ambient light intensity. This results in faster and more precise display adjustments. The technology’s high internal gain and low noise levels mean that even in low-light conditions, the sensor can accurately measure light levels without the need for external amplification, reducing power consumption and improving battery life. Learn more about this.

Our CEO, Serguei Okhonnin clarifies on this point in an exerpt from a recent interview conducted by Europractice:

“In general, the sensor market is very crowded. You can never be sure that what you are doing has not been done before. However, we are not just improving an existing technology but bringing a totally new concept to the market. ActLight is the only company that has been granted patents in this field”

Serguei Okhonin CEO ActLight

Superior Display Performance with ActLight’s DPD

Smartwatches with high-quality displays, especially those from leading brands, can benefit immensely from DPD. Learn more about our applications on our website. The precise control over light sensing that DPD provides leads to superior adaptive brightness and enhanced color accuracy. This means that displays can maintain their clarity and vividness in all environments, enhancing user experience.

For digital smartwatches, this technology ensures that the display is always at its optimal brightness, preserving battery life while maintaining visibility. Mechanical watches with integrated digital displays can also leverage DPD technology, blending classic design with modern functionality. These hybrid watches can offer adaptive display features that adjust seamlessly to changing light conditions, enhancing both functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Advancing Heart Rate Monitoring with DPD

Heart rate monitoring is a cornerstone feature of modern smartwatches, integral to fitness tracking and health management. The accuracy of these measurements is critical, especially as smartwatches increasingly serve as health monitors. Conventional photodiodes used in heart rate sensors often require amplification and can be prone to noise, leading to inaccurate readings, especially during physical activity or under varying light conditions.

ActLight’s DPD technology addresses these issues with its unique dynamic operation. The DPD measures the delay in current response rather than the magnitude, resulting in highly accurate and stable readings even in challenging conditions. This makes it particularly suitable for heart rate monitoring, where precise measurements are vital for tracking health metrics like exercise intensity, stress levels, and overall cardiovascular health.

Furthermore, DPD technology can also improve other health monitoring functions, such as blood oxygen level (SpO2) measurement. Accurate SpO2 monitoring is essential for detecting potential health issues such as sleep apnea or respiratory conditions. The high sensitivity and low noise of the DPD ensure that even minute changes in blood oxygen levels are detected accurately.

Bridging Tradition and Innovation in Smartwatches

The integration of ActLight’s DPD technology in smartwatches isn’t limited to purely digital devices. Mechanical watches, known for their craftsmanship and timeless appeal in Switzerland, are increasingly incorporating smart features. These hybrid watches can benefit from DPD technology for heart rate monitoring and ambient light sensing, offering users the best of both worlds: the elegance of mechanical timepieces and the functionality of smartwatches.

The versatility of DPD technology allows it to be adapted to various form factors and designs, making it an ideal solution for both digital and mechanical smartwatches. Whether it’s a sleek digital smartwatch with a high-resolution display or a traditional mechanical watch with smart capabilities, DPD technology enhances their performance and user experience in a dynamic way. 

Pioneering Sensor Technology at ActLight

We have developed two versions of our DPD: one based on CMOS technology, known as the embedded DPD, and a standalone version built in-house. The standalone DPD is manufactured using custom processes at the CMi cleanroom, where we have full control over every aspect of its development, from process parameters to doping profiles and device sizing.

Our engineers regularly conduct research at the CMi cleanroom to refine and enhance the DPD technology. Recent advancements focus on reducing the internal capacitance of the DPDs to increase their sensitivity. This involves sophisticated techniques such as improving carrier collection within the device and using advanced fabrication processes like epitaxial layer growth, deep reactive ion etching (DRIE), and precise lithography.

These meticulous processes allow us to create sensors with unparalleled performance characteristics, suitable for the most demanding applications. Whether integrated into a high-end digital smartwatch or a hybrid mechanical timepiece, our DPD technology delivers exceptional accuracy and reliability in our experimental phases.

The Future of Smartwatches with ActLight’s DPD

Looking ahead, the opportunities for integrating ActLight’s DPD into smartwatches we believe are immense. As the boundaries between digital and mechanical watches blur, and as smartwatches become more sophisticated, the need for advanced, reliable sensor technology will only grow.

ActLight is a Swiss company at the forefront of this evolution, continually pushing the limits of what is possible with light-sensing technology. Our DPD sensors are poised to set new standards in display performance and health monitoring, paving the way for smarter, more capable wearables.

As we continue to innovate and refine our technology, we are dedicated to meeting the future needs of smartwatch designers, display technology experts, and health-conscious consumers. With ActLight’s DPD technology, the future of smartwatches is not just about keeping time.

ActLight offers robust intellectual property (IP) solutions for licensing its Dynamic Photodiode (DPD) technology. Understanding the importance of safeguarding innovation, ActLight has developed a comprehensive portfolio of IP protections to ensure the integrity and exclusivity of its technology. With a focus on reliability and trustworthiness, ActLight’s IP solutions provide peace of mind for potential partners and licensees. In a landscape where IP protection is paramount, ActLight stands out as a trusted partner, offering licensing opportunities that enable broader access to its cutting-edge DPD technology while maintaining the integrity of its innovations.

Learn more about our solutions by visiting our website or reading our white paper.