STMicroelectronics has developed the first multi-zone time-of-flight (ToF) sensor to be offered for general-purpose applications, bringing sophisticated distance sensing to a wide range of consumer and industrial products.
The VL53L5CX sensor provides up to 64 sensing zones with multi-target detection, distance measurement up to 4m 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.
The VL53L5CX 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. It also has a low-power microcontroller and is capable of autonomous operation for power-saving applications.
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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.
The sensor uses ST’s histogram processing to reduce the impact of cover-glass crosstalk beyond 60cm. This allows the sensor to be easily integrated and hidden behind various types of front panels.
By supporting gesture recognition and automatic human-presence detection, the VL53L5CX enables 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.
The VL53L5CX is supported by a toolchain with development boards designed to integrate easily into larger prototype systems. The P-NUCLEO-53L5A1 evaluation kit and X-CUBE-TOF1 software expansion pack use the STM32 development ecosystem for building time-of-flight applications.
All parts are in production now and available for order online, priced from $3.90.
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