STMicro upgrades multi-zone FlightSense ToF sensor

Targeting distance sensing in a range of consumer and industrial applications, STMicroelectronics has upgraded its VL53L5 multi-zone FlightSense time-of-flight (ToF) sensor with a new set of algorithms and software. The VL53L5CX ToF sensor includes the addition of a new autonomous low-power mode for power savings that allows the host to sleep until the sensor detects a target has crossed a programmable threshold and sends an interrupt to wake-up the host, and a motion-detector algorithm that can detect any movement of up to four targets in each of the 64 zones.

STMicro upgrades multi-zone FlightSense ToF sensor

Click for a larger image. (Source: STMicroelectronics)

Key features of the VL53L5CX ToF sensor include up to 64 sensing zones with multi-target detection, distance measurement up to four meters in each zone, and a wide square-edged field of view with 63° diagonal. The sensor can be used for for 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.

By supporting gesture recognition and automatic human-presence detection, the VL53L5CX enables safe, touch-free operation and provides significant power-savings when used for waking-up publicly accessible equipment such as self-service payment terminals, as well as consumer products and domestic appliances, said STMicroelectronics.

The VL53L5CX sensor features ST’s histogram processing, which is said to greatly reduce the impact of cover-glass crosstalk. The  sensor can be integrated and hidden behind various types of front panels and the new motion-indicator feature allows the sensor to detect if the target has moved or not.

The number of sensing arrays is programmable and the sensor can provide up to 60 frames per second in 16-zone (4×4) mode for fast-ranging mode. In addition, software configuration enables the VL53L5CX  to reach high resolution in 8×8 zones, allowing the sensor to be used in applications such as keystone correction for video projectors and mini depth-maps for augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications.

STMicro upgrades multi-zone FlightSense ToF sensor

The Rx (or collector) exclusion zone includes all modules’ assembly tolerances and is used to define the cover window dimensions. The cover window opening must be equal to or wider than the exclusion zone. The detection volume represents the applicative or system FoV in which a target is detected, and a distance measured. It is determined by the Rx lens or the Rx aperture, and is narrower than the exclusion zone. (Source: STMicroelectronics)

The VL53L5CX contains a low-power microcontroller and comes in a fully integrated 6.4 × 3.0 × 1.5-mm module that contains an infrared vertical cavity surface emission laser (VCSEL) emitter and a receiver with embedded single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), as well as a histogram-based ToF processing engine.

The VL53L5CX is supported by evaluation and calibration tools that enables ultra-fast prototyping. Development boards are designed to integrate easily into larger prototype systems. The P-NUCLEO-53L5A1 evaluation kit and X-CUBE-TOF1 software expansion pack leverage the STM32 development ecosystem for building time-of-flight applications.

The devices, in production, are available for order online, priced from $3.90.

ST is hosting a webinar dedicated to time-of-flight sensing on September 21, 2021, to introduce the VL53L5CX, including development tools and software code examples for applications such as gesture recognition, people counting, floor material detection for robots, and liquid level measurement.

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