STMicroelectronics has extended the capabilities of its FlightSense time-of-flight (ToF) ranging sensors with patented histogram algorithms that allow measuring distances to multiple objects as well as increasing accuracy.
The new VL53L3CX, based on ST’s third-generation FlightSense patented technology, measures object ranges from 2.5cm to 3m, unaffected by the target color or reflectance, unlike conventional infrared sensors. This allows designers to introduce features 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.
It combines high-performance proximity and ranging sensor with multi-target distance measurements and automatic smudge correction. The miniature reflowable package integrates a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array and physical infrared filters to achieve optimum ranging performance in various ambient lighting conditions, with a wide range of cover glass windows.
The VL53L3CX combines high-performance proximity and ranging sensor with multi-target distance measurements and automatic smudge correction (Image: STMicroelectronics)
With patented algorithms and innovative module construction, the VL53L3CX is able to detect different objects within the field of view (FoV) with depth understanding. 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 VL53L3CX 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 ToF sensors are already deployed. The VL53L3CX features a compact, all-in-one package design that eases integration in customer devices, as well as low power consumption – its typical active ranging power consumption is 16mA, with a hardware standby of 5µA – that helps extend battery runtime.
ToF sensing brings better 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.