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Proximity sensors use Time-of-Flight tech to boost accuracy

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:STMicroelectronics? proximity sensor? smartphone? tablet? Time-of-Flight?

There is a new, highly-accurate optical range-finding module based on FlightSense Time-of-Flight technology. STMicroelectronics said the solution provides designers with greater distance-measurement capability.

FlightSense is said to offer accurate distance sensing by measuring the time for emitted light to reflect back from the target, whereas conventional sensors can only report reflected signal levels and not absolute distance. ST's FlightSense technology promises to bring unique advantages versus conventional infrared sensors; measuring longer ranges that are independent of the target reflectivity, at high frame rate and low power.

ST's VL6180X module combines FlightSense proximity sensing with an ambient-light sensor (ALS) and supports basic gesture recognition to simplify the user-interface design while also offering enhanced performance. The device supports a range of creative use cases across multiple markets such as smartphones, tablets and game controllers, while also improving the performance of consumer appliances and industrial products.


The VL6180X module is offered in a compact 4.8mm x 2.8mm x 1mm optical LGA12 package and can measure the distance to objects at up to 100mm or even farther, subject to operating conditions. The module provides an I2C interface for host control and reading ranging or ambient light level results, as well as two programmable GPIO pins that can be configured to implement threshold applications.

ST said designers can easily discover all the possibilities of ST's latest proximity-sensor module with the latest VL6180X Explorer evaluation kit. The company noted that the kit not only allows the customer to quickly get started with FlightSense technology, but also supports the development of applications in a real device. It combines a USB-pluggable STM32Nucleo board and VL6180X sensor shield containing the sensor, a 4-digit LED display, and a slider switch to control the ranging and ALS functions. The display shows either the distance to the target or the ambient light level.

The VL6180X sensor is in full production, priced from $2.50 for a minimum order quantity of 5,000 units, while the VL6180X Explorer kit is available at $19.69 per unit.

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