STMicroelectronics expands into 3D depth sensing

STMicroelectronics expands into 3D depth sensing

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

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STMicroelectronics has launched into the 3D depth sensing market with an all-in-one direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) 3D LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) module.

The launch of the VL53L9 builds on ST’s position in direct ToF sensor modules, with two billion FlightSense devices shipped. The 3D LiDaR module is aimed at camera assist, virtual reality, 3D webcam, robotics and smart buildings.

The module has up to 2.3k zones with 672×804-pixel resolution and is now in volume production with a first design win at Lanxin Technology in China for robot vision.

“ToF sensors, which can accurately measure the distance to objects in a scene, are driving exciting new capabilities in smart devices, home appliances, and industrial automation. We have already delivered two billion sensors into the market and continue to extend our unique portfolio, which covers all types from the simplest single-zone devices up to our latest high-resolution 3D indirect and direct ToF sensors,” said Alexandre Balmefrezol, General Manager, Imaging Sub-Group at STMicroelectronics.

“Our vertically integrated supply chain, covering everything from pixel and metasurface lens technology and design to fabrication, with geographically diversified in-house high-volume module assembly plants, lets us deliver extremely innovative, highly integrated, and high-performing sensors.”

The VL53L9 direct ToF 3D LiDAR device with a resolution of up to 2.3k zones. It integrates dual scan flood illumination to allow the LiDAR to detect small objects and edges and captures both 2D infrared (IR) images and 3D depth map information. It comes as a ready-to-use low power module with its on-chip dToF processing, requiring no extra external components or calibration.

The VL53L9’s suite of features elevates camera-assist performance, supporting macro up to telephoto photography. It enables features such as laser autofocus, bokeh, and cinematic effects for still and video at 60fps (frame per second). Virtual reality (VR) systems can leverage accurate depth and 2D images to enhance spatial mapping for more immersive gaming and other VR experiences like virtual visits or 3D avatars. In addition, the sensor’s ability to detect the edges of small objects at short and ultra-long ranges makes it suitable for applications such as virtual reality or SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping).

A subsidiary of Lanxin Technology is using the VD55H1 672 x 804 indirect ToF (iToF) sensor to add high-accuracy depth-sensing to its 3D cameras. The cameras with ST’s sensor inside combine the power of 3D vision and edge AI, delivering intelligent obstacle avoidance and high-precision docking in mobile robots.

This calculates the distance to points on a surface by measuring the phase shift between its emitted signal and the received, reflected signal. This indirect Time-of-Flight (iToF) sensing is a complementary technique to direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) sensing used by the VL53L9, which measures the time between transmitting and receiving the reflected signals.

First samples of the VL53L9 are already available for lead customers and mass production is scheduled for early 2025. The VD55H1 is in full production now.









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