Distance awareness devices rely on ToF proximity sensors

Amsterdam-based start-up, Aura Aware, is using ST’s FlightSense time of flight (ToF) technology in a smart distance-awareness portable device for use at retail counters and check-in desks.

The device displays a green OK signal that changes to red if a person crosses a safe, minimum distance threshold.

The VL53L1X compact ToF proximity and ranging sensor is used in the Aura Aware devices. It has an operating range of up to four metres and very low power consumption. Signal processing is built into the sensor, simplifying design. It also provides features such as crosstalk compensation that maintains measurement accuracy even if the sensor window becomes obscured by foreign material.

ToF sensors transmit photons and then calculate distance to the target based on the time it takes for the reflected photons to be received back by the sensor. Ranging accuracy is unaffected by surface characteristics of the  target, such as clothing colour or skin reflectivity, which is a characteristic that makes it particularly suitable for devices designed to help people maintain social distancing.

The sensors can also help users avoid contact with surfaces, including self service touchscreens, smart water taps and pushbutton door openers, located in high-traffic areas. The speed and precision of ToF sensing enable FlightSense sensors to manage basic on/off control as well as to detect and interpret gestures like tapping and swiping for smart touchless human machine interaction.

Another advantage is the linear response when measuring short distances. It allows them to be used inside dispensing machines to detect the level of hand-sanitising liquid or the number of personal protective items such as face masks.

The FlightSense ToF sensors are in production now. Samples are available on request.

STMicroelectronics specialises in semiconductor technologies, including the semiconductor supply chain and manufacturing facilities. The independent device manufacturer works with customers and partners to design and build products, solutions and ecosystems and technologies that enable smarter mobility, more efficient power and energy management, and the wide-scale deployment of the Internet of Things and 5G technology.


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