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Automotive grade single-chip VGA ToF sensor from Melexis

Melexis is making available a single-chip automotive grade VGA Time-of-Flight (ToF) image sensor for applications such as in-car and exterior monitoring.

The MLX75027 is a system-on-chip solution, providing VGA (640 x 480 pixel) resolution image sensing and processing in a single BGA package and is intended for in-car monitoring, which is now being used to monitor the driver and other occupants of a vehicle, both as a user interface and a safety feature.

The MLX75027 uses a modulated light source and optical time-of-flight sensing to create a three-dimensional image of the cabin, allowing it to monitor people and objects, as well detect gestures. It can also be used to detect free space and obstacles outside of the vehicle, such as pedestrians, for collision warning and navigation applications. The MLX75027 is able to operate in an ambient temperature of -40 to +105°C.

Key features of the MLX75027 include support for modulation frequencies up to 100MHz, which allows manufacturers to take advantage of the full potential of VCSEL to achieve high distance accuracy. In addition, the device supports a frame rate of up to 135 FPS, enabling the detection and tracking of fast moving objects. It combines low power dissipation of just 230 mw at 30 FPS with a power supply scheme that only requires 3 voltage domains (2.7V, 1.8V and 1.2V), which simplifies system design and helps lower the cost of the power supply unit.

The MLX75027 uses Sony's Back Illumination technology and includes advanced features, such as programmable region of interest, continuous or triggered operation modes and horizontal/vertical flip image modes. System level interfaces include CSI-2 serial data output, MIPI D-PHY and I2C.

The MLX75027 ToF sensor is supported by the EVK75027 evaluation kit, which represents a complete ToF camera that can be directly connected to a PC for visualization and recording of depth map data, while allowing direct access to many of the MLX75027’s configuration settings.

The kit consists of four stacked PCBs, comprising (from top to bottom): the illumination board, the ToF sensor board, an interface board, and a processor board. It is also possible to detach the PCBs and connect the sensor to another processor board or use a different illumination unit. A graphical user interface for Windows is provided for live depth map visualization, basic recording, analysis and configuration. To support custom software development, a MATLAB SDK and C API are also provided. The built-in flexibility of the evaluation kit enables any designer to quickly develop the necessary system knowledge and product experience to develop their own application.

The evaluation kit EVK75027-110-940-1 is available with 940 nm VCSEL illumination and 110 deg field of view optics with built-in band pass filter. Sampling of the MLX75027 will start in July 2019.

Neil Tyler

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