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ST develops Time-of-Flight 8x8 multi-zone ranging sensor

STMicroelectronics has developed the first multi-zone FlightSense time-of-flight sensor intended for general-purpose applications.

According to ST, the sensor brings sophisticated distance sensing for the first time to a broad range of consumer and industrial products.

The VL53L5CX sensor provides up to 64 sensing zones with multi-target detection, distance measurement up to four meters in each zone, and a wide square-edged field of view with 63° diagonal.

The sensor is suited to gesture recognition, complex scene analysis including 3D room mapping for robotics, storage-tank level monitoring to assist in inventory management, liquid-level control, and waste-bin-level monitoring to enable smart refuse collection for enhanced efficiency.

With the ability to support gesture recognition and automatic human-presence detection, it can enable safe, touch-free operation with significant power-saving when used for waking-up publicly accessible equipment such as self-service payment terminals, as well as consumer products and domestic appliances.

It features ST’s histogram processing, which significantly reduces the impact of cover-glass crosstalk, and the sensor can be integrated and hidden behind various types of front panels. The motion-indicator feature allows the sensor to detect if the target has moved or not.

The number of sensing arrays is programmable and the sensor can provide up to 60 frames per second in 16-zone (4x4) mode for fast-ranging mode. With simple software configuration to reach high resolution of 8x8 zones, the VL53L5CX can also assist keystone correction for video projectors and provide an accurate mini depth-map for augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications.

It contains a low-power microcontroller and is capable of autonomous operation for power-saving applications. It comes in a fully integrated 6.4mm x 3.0mm x 1.5mm module that contains an infrared VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emission Laser) emitter and a receiver with embedded SPADs (Single-Photon Avalanche Diode) and histogram based ToF processing engine.

The VL53L5CX is supported by an extensive toolchain that allows ultra-fast prototyping via an easy-to-use evaluation and calibration tool. Development boards designed to integrate easily into larger prototype systems are also available.

Author
Neil Tyler

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