Advances to Time-of-Flight portfolio for In-Cabin Monitoring

22nd November 2018
Alex Lynn


Global microelectronics engineering company, Melexis, has announced a major upgrade to Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology for the automotive industry. This reinforces Melexis’ position as an industry pioneer in the development and production of Time-of-Flight sensors for automotive applications.

The portfolio now includes its next-generation QVGA ToF sensor chipset and a forthcoming VGA ToF sensor. The latest developments will enable Melexis to further support its automotive customers in their continuous need for advanced in-cabin sensing solutions. 

The new sensors are AEC-Q100 qualified and suitable for a range of automotive applications including gesture recognition, driver monitoring and people/object detection. The new MLX75024 ToF QVGA sensor doubles the sensitivity of the previous generation while maintaining the same resolution (320x240px) and industry-leading ambient light robustness. This allows it to operate in lower light levels or reduce the illumination power required by at least 30%.

System efficiency is further enhanced by a 50% reduction in current consumption and the resulting lower heat generation allows the design of more compact cameras. A new selectable gain feature allows designers to find the optimum trade-off between illumination power, accuracy and ambient light robustness. As a result of the improvements mentioned above, the SNR is two times better in low light conditions and distances greater than one meter. As an additional improvement, the sensor now integrates an on-chip temperature sensor, reducing system size and cost.

To support the latest MLX75024 QVGA ToF sensor Melexis has developed the MLX75123BA ToF companion chip, which offers a three-fold improvement in front-end noise over its predecessor. The companion chip is used to configure parameters such as pixel gain, and now supports pixel binning to simplify hardware and software for lower resolution applications.

Additionally, the MLX75123BA can support two MLX75024 sensors at the same time, further reducing system cost, complexity and the overall size of a dual-head ToF camera. A comprehensive evaluation kit (EVK75024) has been developed to support the new QVGA ToF chipsets and is available today. 

As in-cabin monitoring develops, future applications that will require even higher resolution and greater integration. To meet this need, Melexis has developed a new, fully integrated, VGA sensor. This sensor is based upon a backside illuminated (BSI) ½” 640x480px array. Initial sampling to automotive customers will start early 2019 together with the release of the evaluation kit for the new automotive VGA ToF sensor. 

Commenting on the new product release, Gualtiero Bagnuoli, Marketing Manager Optical Sensors, said: "After the world’s first Time of Flight generation was launched by Melexis in 2014, this next generation of our QVGA ToF chipset offers significant performance advantages, particularly with respect to improved sensitivity, greater integration, extended functionality and reduced power consumption.

“A common footprint with earlier generations allows existing customers to upgrade easily, while a comprehensive evaluation kit reduces time-to-market for designers developing solutions for new projects and enables significant cost savings. The new automotive integrated VGA ToF sensor incorporates our significant know-how in ToF technology and demonstrates our commitment to support our customers to the fullest.”

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