Magnetic position sensors are quietly stunning the consumer electronic switch market!

The ams AS5600 position sensor saves customers space and weight in household appliances and toys. It can replace the failure-prone mechanical switch, thereby improving the reliability of the whole product.

The ams AS5600 position sensor saves customers space and weight in household appliances and toys. It can replace the failure-prone mechanical switch, thereby improving the reliability of the whole product.

Magnetic position sensors are quietly stunning the consumer electronic switch market!

Since the invention of the silicon chip, electrical engineers have used so-called “solid-state” technology in semiconductors to replace bulky mechanical devices. In a wide range of Electronic products, lightweight electronic components such as the ams AS5600 magnetic rotary position sensor offer space and weight advantages. The AS5600 can replace mechanical switches, buttons and knobs in smart home and consumer electronics devices such as washing machines, refrigerators, robots or toys. The sensor improves the performance of electronic devices and makes them less prone to failure due to friction or wear, making them more reliable and durable than mechanical products with similar capabilities. Additionally, the space and weight advantages save on material costs and shipping costs from factory delivery to the consumer.

Why appliance makers are starting to embrace contactless technology

Old-fashioned buttons, switches, or sensors operate by a mechanism: for example, when the button is pressed, a spring behind the button is squeezed, transferring the force of the finger to an actuator, which registers the button press. With each press, the metal spring in the button is stressed more and more times until it eventually fails. Even before metal fatigue breaks the spring, dust, dirt, grease, or other contaminants can clog the mechanism so that it can no longer trigger the actuator.

The AS5600 non-contact magnetic position sensor detects the rotational movement of a bipolar magnet parallel to the top surface of the chip. There are no mechanical connections, so there is no material to wear out and nothing susceptible to contamination. The AS5600-based position sensor system can be operated millions of times without any performance degradation over its lifetime. Another version of this product, the AS5601, can also detect vertical motion, so it can be used as a push button and rotary switch.

All versions enable product manufacturers to achieve space-saving designs: the AS5600 and AS5601 are available in a 4.9mm × 6.0mm SOIC-8 package. The AS5600L is also available in this package, and even a smaller chip-scale package is available, measuring only 2.1mm x 2.6mm.

Magnetic position sensors are quietly stunning the consumer electronic switch market!

Thanks to its low power mode, the AS5600 is even suitable for battery powered devices when the sensor is not in use. Low power consumption also helps manufacturers meet higher efficiency rating standards, such as the EU’s new energy-efficiency labelling scheme for consumer electronics, implemented in March 2021.

Unique reliability: immunity to stray magnetic fields

In household appliances, powerful motors generate magnetic fields that interfere with the operation of magnetic position sensor systems. To avoid this, a unique differential sensing technology is embedded in every magnetic position sensor from ams, which automatically cancels the effects of any external magnetic fields. This technology ensures that the sensor only works when the magnetic field changes due to the movement of the target magnet.

In order to realize the smooth motion of the home robot arm, or accurately detect the position of the program selection knob on the washing machine, the AS5600 adopts a high-speed on-chip processor. The processor can perform the complex calculations required to convert magnetic field measurements into accurate angular measurements.

Advantages at a glance

The small AS5600 offers reliable performance, low power consumption, immunity to stray magnetic fields, and a competitive price. Designers who want to evaluate this product should use the AS5600-specific evaluation kit, AS5600-SO_EK_ST (available from the ams online store).

Magnetic position sensors are quietly stunning the consumer electronic switch market!

About the Author:

Magnetic position sensors are quietly stunning the consumer electronic switch market!
Dominik Kullnig

Dominik Kullnig joined ams in 2012 and has been working in applications engineering since February 2019. He supports major customers in all markets using inductive and magnetic position sensors such as the AS5600.

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