Operating at longer NIR (near-infared) wavelengths than existing 3D sensors, the CMOS-based Explore Series sensor, says the company, can be used in the area of the spectrum that is more than 10 times safer than the currently-used 940 nm wavelength. In addition it is claimed to offer improved sensing accuracy and performance under sunlight.
The new sensor can effectively cover the range from 850 nm to 1550 nm compared to existing 3D sensors that typically operate at 850 nm or 940 nm. By using this capability, says the company, the new Explore Series sensor substantially reduces the potential risk of eye damage, since longer NIR wavelength radiation causes less or even no harm to the retina.
According to recent findings, the power of the laser can safely be at least 10 times greater at 1200-1400 nm than at 940 nm - which means improving performance without compromising on safety for long range and highly accurate 3D imaging. It also means, says the company, that the safe minimum distance of the laser from the eye can be further reduced to sub-centimeter, following the international standards IEC 60825-1:2007 and IEC 60825-1:2014.
The use of longer NIR wavelengths also minimizes interference from sunlight and enables better performance in outdoor environments. This is enabled by the use of a GeSi technology platform developed by company in cooperation with TSMC, enabling it to be the first CMOS-based ToF solution to work with light wavelengths up to 1.55 µm. A paper that addresses the sensor design based on a GeSi platform has recently been accepted by ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference) 2020.
The demo will include a RGB-D camera for logistics applications and robot vision, and a 3D camera system that can operate at a longer wavelength. The sensor is expected to enter mass production in Q1 2020 and targets applications that will benefit from the improved 3D sensing performance such as mobile devices, automotive LiDAR,