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MEMS module targets touch-free apps

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital light processor? structured light illumination? plug-and-play module? MEMS?

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has released a new technology that according to the company could pave the way for more advanced MEMS applications. Structured light illumination (SLI), the company revealed, can eliminate the need for touch in MEMS, thus increasing the precision of conventional devices.

Using the million-mirror digital light processors (DLPs) from TI, SLI works by projecting moving stripes of light onto objects, then measures the deformity of the reflected patterns using algorithms to reconstruct their 3D shapes. TI's biggest customers are OEMs manufacturing touch-free fingerprint scanners that can identify people without requiring the traditional ink-blotter protocol. Besides revolutionizing biometric-, facial-, dental- and medical-scanning, SLI is also opening whole new frontiers in DLP applicationsfrom industrial inspection systems to scientific instrumentation of all kinds, noted TI.

"DLP technology allows FlashScan3D to capture greater detail in fingerprints with higher accuracy than with other SLI solutions, thus cutting down on the possibilities of technician error and fraud," indicated TI customer Mike Troy, CEO of FlashScan3D. "And the new DLP LightCrafter development module can scan faster, store data internally versus on a laptop or separate storage device and, because of its size, enables even smaller, more portable SLI applications."

TI's DLP LightCrafter is a plug-and-play module manufactured for it by Young Optics Inc. Using TI's DLP 0.3 WVGA chipset, the LightCrafter is ready-to-use by OEMs for research and development, but can also serve as the main subsystems in finished end-user products too.

Combined with the DLP chip that has 415,872 micro-mirrors is a second custom controller application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) as well as a DaVinci digital video processor (DVP) with its own 128MB of NAND flash memory for pattern storage, and a configurable I/O trigger for integrating cameras, sensors and the other peripherals needed for SLI. An optional FGPA can also be added to accelerate displayed SLI patterns to as fast as 4,000 per second. Finally, an integrated LED array for red, green and blue completes the LightCrafter by enabling it to output up to 20 lumens of light. OEMs use embedded Linux to develop their software for the DaVinci DVP in the LightCrafter.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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