Multi-zone ToF sensor detects gesture recognition and human presence detection

User presence and gesture recognition enhance security for PC users. The VL53L5CP FlightSense time of flight (ToF) multi-zone sensor by STMicroelectronics is being embedded in select Lenovo PCs.

The FlightSense ToF multi-zone sensor is delivered with a suite of software algorithms to provide a turnkey solution for user detection, gesture recognition, and intruder alert, specially designed for the PC market, said ST. 

The FlightSense multi-zone sensors continuously scan their field of view to map the scene and gather intelligence without using a camera or recording images. By using ToF technology, the sensors can detect and track multiple targets, calculating at high speed their X/Y/Z co-ordinates and motion.

The VL53L5CP FlightSense multi-zone sensor can detect multiple targets in 64 (8×8) zones within a wide 61 degree field of view. The sensor comes with Presence Premium Plus, ST’s proprietary third generation of algorithms dedicated to PC applications. Interacting with native aspects of the PC hardware and OS, the FlightSense and algorithms are certified at the highest level by Intel, confirmed ST.

The VL53L5CP and Presence Premium Plus software are optimised for PC applications and supported in Windows 11. PC designers can implement innovative features including smart power management, enhanced security, and touchless user interaction. ST said it has pioneered ‘wake on approach’ and ‘walk away lock’ presence technology which enables a seamless always-on user experience while maximising battery-energy savings. Automatic and immediate walk-away lock also prevents unauthorised access and data protection while the user is away.

In addition, multi-human detection (MHD) senses other people in the field of view and analyses their position and movements to assess security risks such as ‘shoulder surfing’. In relevant situations, the system alerts the user.

Another breakthrough innovation in the VL53L5CP, said ST, is robust touchless gesture sensing, which allows the user to control PC applications without touching the screen, keyboard, or mouse. The sensor can detect directional swipes and taps, as well as level adjustments. With access to such information, developers can easily implement instructions such as next or previous slide/song/video, play/pause, and volume control.

ST’s Presence Premium Plus software also enables PC designers to develop custom AI applications in Windows, leveraging the VL53L5CP sensor’s 8×8 multi-zone data to sense user intent, with continuous presence detection. In addition, dynamic programming of the VL53L5CP’s key parameters from Windows allows the end user to personalise parameters such as timing and lock/wake distances.

By enabling these features using non-vision-based ToF technology rather than the PC’s webcam, the VL53L5CP enables superior differentiation in several respects. With no image, it eliminates any privacy concerns. The sensor is always on, hidden behind the bezel, thereby removing dependence on the webcam shutter position. In addition, the sensor integrates a 940nm VCSEL infrared light emitter, invisible to human eyes, which ensures full performance in the dark or low-light conditions. In contrast, cameras need a dedicated power-hungry LED to illuminate the scene.

ST said its FlightSense technology outperforms several other techniques for human detection. Traditional infrared sensors do not measure distance and are affected by the colour and reflectance of detected objects, for example. Ultrasound is sensitive to noisy environments and may affect pets’ hearing, while radar requires very complex software development on top of power-hungry signal processing, said the company.

The VL53L5CP FlightSense multi-zone ToF sensor is in volume production and available now with the Presence Premium Plus algorithms.

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