Time-of-flight sensor enables multi-object ranging

28th May 2020
Mick Elliott

The capabilities of ST Microelectronics’ FlightSense time-of-flight (ToF) ranging sensors has been extended with the VL53L3CX device.

It offers patented histogram algorithms that allow measuring distances to multiple objects as well as increasing accuracy.

The VL53L3CX measures object ranges from 2.5cm to 3m, unaffected by the target colour or reflectance, unlike conventional infrared sensors.

This allows designers to introduce powerful new features to their products, such as enabling occupancy detectors to provide error-free sensing by ignoring unwanted background or foreground objects, or reporting the exact distances to multiple targets within the sensor’s field-of-view.

The ST patented histogram algorithms increase cover-glass crosstalk immunity and allow real-time smudge compensation preventing external contamination from adversely affecting the ranging accuracy of, for example, vacuum cleaners or equipment that may be used in a dusty industrial environment.

Ranging under ambient lighting is also improved.

In addition, the TOF sensor has superior linearity that increases short-distance measurement accuracy enhancing wall tracking, faster cliff detection, and obstacle avoidance in equipment such as service robots and vacuum cleaners, markets in which ST has already enjoyed considerable commercial success.

Like all FlightSense sensors, the VL53L3CX features a compact, all-in-one package design that eases integration in customer devices, as well as low power consumption that helps extend battery runtime.

ToF sensing brings superior performance to a wide variety of applications, including more reliable occupancy detection in building-automation and lighting controllers, smarter proximity sensing in IoT endpoints, more convenient auto-wakeup in portable devices, and more robust user detection in automatic sanitary equipment. With their high accuracy and fast response times, ToF sensors also enhance the performance of all devices requiring precise movement control, typically robotics and indoor drones.

The VL53L3CX is available now at ST Microelectronics priced from $1.70. Contact ST for high-volume pricing options.

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