Aiming for new relationships between humans and electronic media

 We live in an age where information can be transmitted, shared and accessed from anywhere on the globe. The tools that make this possible are electronic media—both the media and the devices—that can be used as a matter of course anywhere at anytime. These are becoming increasingly integrated with the human body.

 To bring out the full potential of electronic media, users must learn how to operate them and adapt themselves to a certain extent to the machine's ways. And systems or mechanisms enabling easy, natural interaction with electronic media without having to acquire specials skills or savvy are essential. By perfecting the art of electronics in the components it supplies, Alps Electric is helping to enhance relationships between humans and electronic media.

 Right, unique and green—these are the three traits we look to instill in our products by perfecting the art of electronics. Immense excitement and value manifests only in those products our employees have created with passion and dedication. To maximize the value presented by these three qualities, we will get right to the core of matters and boldly set out to achieve the targets we set for ourselves.

  • Lavishly applying technology and know-how in our possession to even the smallest components
  • Building unmistakable originality even into standard components with fixed specs
  • Considering the environmental burden over the long term from product creation to recycling

Lavishly applying technology and know-how in our possession to even the smallest components

 Appearance, features, performance, price, quality—components that satisfy the various requirements of customers without excess or deficiency; that aptly embody the essential concept of creating new value. That is what Alps Electric means by products that are right.

 For example, controls for operating functions of smartphones, home appliances and automobiles employ a wide variety of switches. Each switch in itself is very small, yet it is also a vital point of contact connecting human and machine, and therefore has an amazingly big task to fulfill.

 It goes without saying that the intentions of the user must be reliably and accurately conveyed to the machine. Push buttons on a game controller have to quickly and faithfully communicate the player's actions. Buttons on a fob of a keyless entry system for a car must not be allowed to be accidentally activated while they sit in the owner's pocket. But when the user does activate them, it is crucial they experience comfort, reassurance and a premium operating feel. This is because the feel of a switch is also an expression of the equipment manufacturer's brand.

 Alps Electric lavishly applies technology and know-how at its disposal to all its products, no matter how small or how common, for this is what makes them right components.

Sparking technological innovation of the ordinary to transform monozukuri

 Smartphones, game controllers, washing machines, car navigation systems and myriads of other electronic products use switches as a means of linking humans to the device. Alps Electric currently offers about 250 different switch series, adding an average 25 new types to the lineup every year. Our world-leading TACT Switch™ products stand out, combining reliable, pleasant operation, durability and fine-tuned feel with craftsman-like precision. They are small components that nevertheless have a large role to play in ensuring reliable control of electronic devices and providing reassurance and comfort to the user. The diverse TACT Switch™ range covers many variations of operating feel.

 Another product that perfectly illustrates Alps Electric's image of the right component in the same way as the TACT Switch™ range is the spring contact, used for connecting printed circuit boards inside a device. With smaller dimensions than conventional connectors or contacts, the product provides welcome flexibility for placement almost anywhere on the board. Moreover, its unique 3D floating structure is highly reliable, allowing use in wearable devices, drones, robots and other equipment subjected to harsh vibrations or impacts. As the right component for the moment, the micro clip is sparking innovation of connection of circuits inside electronic devices. structure design of electronic devices.

TACT Switch™

Spring Contact

Building unmistakable originality even into standard components with fixed specs

 Alps Electric does not seek novelty or unconventionality for its own sake. Rather, we are committed to our own style, pursuing the art of electronics through original value that is truly appreciated by the customer. This is what we mean by products that are unique. Functionality and performance are of course important, but the overall concept of the product, too has to be right on target.

 Take, for example, wireless communication modules vital for exchanging information between computers, smartphones and cars. Because specifications for wireless communication are strictly defined by international standards, one might be inclined to think the modules will not differ greatly between manufacturers. But at Alps Electric, we believe there is leeway to incorporate unique traits even into these wireless communication modules.

 Verification and adjustment procedures intended to ensure a reliable connection between car and electronic device are usually carried out by the automaker. But at Alps Electric, we perform the necessary steps in-house, thereby reducing the workload of automobile manufacturers. By instilling unique-ness into quality control, we not only cover visible aspects of the required specs, but also enhance usability from the point of view of the customer.

 Today, around 60 percent of standard navigation and audio systems pre-installed in cars are equipped with wireless communication modules for connection to smartphones. And roughly 40 percent of these are Alps Electric products. Our large share of a considerably standardized market is evidence of how much customers value our unique products.

Steady implementation of the verification and correction cycle results in a reliable wireless communication module

 Situations where smartphones are used in conjunction with a car audio system or other automotive equipment have increased in recent years. Our UGZZF Series Wireless LAN/Bluetooth® module, for example, incorporates not only communication circuitry and related parts but also an antenna and component elements that are difficult to implement, such as the processing software. Alps Electric also delivers products having already ensured strict compliance with the varying radio laws worldwide and having obtained interoperability certification. This helps significantly to reduce the development workload of automotive electronics and vehicle manufacturers.

 In the near future, we will enter the age of the connected car, where vehicles will be linked via wireless communication to other vehicles, road infrastructure and pedestrians. Establishing reliable wireless links outside the vehicle is a challenge on a whole different scale to connection of devices inside a single vehicle because the communication environment is constantly changing. Adjacent to our product development department at Alps Electric, we have established one of the finest evaluation centers in the electronic components industry, capable of reproducing driving environments. We also conduct on-road tests overseas as part of ongoing preparations for the future that lies ahead.

V2X Module

Considering the environmental burden over the long term from product creation to recycling

 Products with a low impact on the environment as long they exist in this world—in development and manufacturing stages, during actual use while integrated into equipment, and when decommissioned and recycled into new resources. This is what Alps Electric refers to as green components.

 To realize such a product, it does not suffice to simply select energy-efficient and harm-free parts and materials. Continual improvements in production technology are vital, as are efforts to develop components that contribute to energy savings in the end product. For example, leveling out power demand requires close monitoring of power usage by households, offices, factories and the like. This is an area where Alps Electric's compact, high-performance current sensor technology can be effectively applied.

 In addition, electric power undergoes a number of conversions—between AC and DC and different voltages—between the moment it is generated and its consumption by electrical equipment. Each time, a certain amount of power is lost as heat. Alps Electric has therefore developed power inductors that make use of a proprietary low-loss material, Liqualloy™. By supplying inductors with excellent conversion efficiency, helping to reduce energy consumption and downsize circuits, we hope to contribute to lightening the environmental burden of all kinds of facilities.

Continually honed materials and process technologies enable more efficient power utilization

 During its time producing magnetic heads for hard disk drives, Alps Electric built up extensive expertise in converting magnetic field fluctuations into resistance value changes. We have now harnessed this technology to develop compact, high-performance current sensors. This enables more detailed monitoring for sophisticated power management systems that contribute to better fuel and power efficiency not only in power grids but also automobiles.

 In regard to power conversion, which occurs repeatedly over the course of power transmission and distribution, an emerging trend is the switch to silicon carbide (SiC) as the semiconductor material making up circuits used in the conversion process due to its excellent energy conversion efficiency. Alps Electric has applied Liqualloy™, our proprietary amorphous iron alloy, to develop compact inductors and reactors compatible with high frequencies while maximizing the potential of materials such as SiC. Bringing these products to the market has enabled downsizing of conversion circuits to as little as one quarter compared to existing products, making it possible to deploy highly efficient power conversion units more widely throughout power transmission and distribution networks.

Liqualloy™ Reactor

Multi-Functional Current Sensor Module for Power Distribution Network