Photo of New STMicroelectronics New Time of Flight Sensor in Electronics Industry Monthly

New STMicroelectronics ToF Sensors Advance 3D Depth Sensing

Automotive Electronics Semiconductor Sensors and Transducers

Photo of New STMicroelectronics New Time of Flight Sensor in Electronics Industry MonthlyGlobal semiconductor industry experts STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), whose innovative products support customers across a broad spectrum of sensing applications, have introduced an all-in-one, direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) 3D LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) module with market-leading 2.3k resolution.

Even in its earliest days of commercial availability, the product has been revealed as an early design win for the world’s smallest 500k-pixel indirect Time-of-Flight (iToF) sensor.

The new STMicroelectronics VL53L9 is a direct ToF 3D LiDAR device, which comes as a ready-to-use low-power module with on-chip dToF processing. It offers a resolution of up to 2.3k zones and integrates a dual scan flood illumination feature that is currently believed to be unique to the market. With this feature, the LiDAR can detect small objects and edges, as well as capture 2D infrared (IR) images and 3D depth map information. Additionally, the device delivers state-of-the-art ranging from 5 cm up to 10 meters.  It requires no extra external components or calibration for operation.

In addition, the VL53L9 is offered with a full suite of features designed to support camera-assist performance and photography requirements from macro up to telephoto.  The product allows for laser autofocus, bokeh, and cinematic effects for still and video at 60fps (frame per second). Virtual reality (VR) systems can utilize the VL539L9 to leverage accurate depth and 2D images for enhanced spatial mapping. The enhanced mapping can allow for more immersive gaming and other VR experiences, like virtual visits or 3D avatars. In addition, the sensor’s capability to detect the edges of small objects at both short and ultra-long ranges makes it suitable for virtual reality (VR) or simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) applications.

In addition to the VL53L9, ST is introducing a second ToF sensor, the VD55H1. This product launch is already in total volume production, with pricing and sample requests available through local ST worldwide sales offices. The VD55H1 has also proved to be an early design win for Lanxin Technology, a China-based company focusing on mobile-robot deep-vision systems. MRDVS, a subsidiary, chose the VD55H1 to add high-accuracy depth-sensing to its 3D camera product portfolio. The high-performance, ultra-compact cameras, when integrated together with ST’s internal sensor, combine the power of both 3D vision and edge AI. This combination allows the sensor to deliver intelligent obstacle avoidance and high-precision docking capabilities within mobile robot applications to a high degree of accuracy and reliability.

Beyond machine vision applications, the VD55H1 is ideal for 3D webcams and PC applications, 3D reconstruction for VR headsets, people counting, and activity detection in smart homes and buildings. It seamlessly incorporates 672 x 804 sensing pixels within a tiny chip sized footprint and yet can accurately map a three-dimensional surface by accurately measuring distance to over half a million points.

ST’s stacked-wafer manufacturing process with backside illumination allows the company to offer sensors with unparalleled resolution, smaller die size, and lower power consumption, as compared to alternative iToF sensors on the market. These combined features give the sensors excellent credentials in 3D content creation for webcams and VR applications including virtual avatars, hand modeling, and gaming.

The first samples of the VL53L9 are available via local ST sales offices, and mass production is scheduled for early 2025.  For more information about these and other products, please visit https://newsroom.st.com/media-center/press-item.html/p4608.html

About STMicroelectronics
At ST, we are over 50,000 creators and makers of semiconductor technologies, mastering the semiconductor supply chain with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. An integrated device manufacturer, we work with more than 200,000 customers and thousands of partners to design and build products, solutions, and ecosystems that address their challenges and opportunities and the need to support a more sustainable world. Our technologies enable smarter mobility, more efficient power and energy management, and the wide-scale deployment of cloud-connected autonomous things. Further information can be found at www.st.com.

Source/Photo Credit: STMicroelectronics

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