ST unveils FlightSense time-of-flight proximity sensors

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High-accuracy FlightSense proximity and ranging sensors from STMicroelectronics are helping prevent disease transmission in products that have been developed in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Amsterdam-based start-up Aura Aware is using ST’s FlightSense Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology in a smart distance-awareness portable device for use at retail counters and check-in desks. Easy-to-setup, the device displays a green OK signal that changes to red if a person crosses a safe minimum-distance threshold.

Aura Aware devices integrate ST’s VL53L1x compact ToF sensor, which has an operating range of up to four meters and very low power consumption. Signal processing built into the sensor simplifies design and provides a number of sophisticated features such as crosstalk compensation that maintains measurement accuracy even if the sensor window becomes obscured by foreign material.

Time-of-Flight sensors transmit photons and then calculate distance to the target based on the time it takes for the reflected photons to be received back by the sensor. Moreover, ranging accuracy is unaffected by surface characteristics of the target, such as clothing colour or skin reflectivity, making FlightSense suitable for helping people to maintain social distancing.

The sensors can also help users avoid contact with surfaces, including self-service touchscreens, smart faucets, and push-button door openers, located in high-traffic areas. The speed and precision of ToF sensing enable FlightSense sensors to manage basic on/off control as well as to detect and interpret gestures like tapping and swiping for smart touchless human-machine interaction.

Another advantage of ST’s ToF sensors is their linear response when measuring short distances, which allows them to be used inside dispensing machines to detect the level of hand-sanitizing liquid or the number of personal protective items such as face masks.