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ST Releases 2nd-Generation Multi-Zone Time-of-Flight Ranging Sensor

The ST VL53L8 ToF ranging sensor offers up to double the range of existing sensors

STMicroelectronics have released the new VL53L8 FlightSense™ direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) ranging sensor for smart-phone camera management and augmented/virtual reality systems. With significant enhancements to many key components, the latest VL53L8 ToF module offers up to double the ranging performance (up to 4m in all zones indoors), while reducing the power consumption by half compared to the previous-generation devices.

ST Releases New Multi-zone Time-of-flight Ranging Sensor

Developed in partnership with Metalenz, the world’s first optical metasurface technology enables optical systems to collect more light, provide multiple functions in a single layer, and deliver new forms of sensing in smartphones and other devices, within a single compact package.

“ST’s ToF technology has enjoyed massive commercial success, now shipping in more than 200 smartphone models and 100 PC, projector, and robotic products. Now, VL53L8 FlightSense sensor takes ranging performance and power efficiency to new levels,” said Eric Aussedat, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Imaging Sub-Group within ST's Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group. “We developed the industry’s first low-voltage glitch-free supervisory IC so system developers may eliminate the errors observed during power-up. No other company offers glitch-free capability at these voltages, further solidifying Maxim Integrated's innovation leadership in robust protection technology.”

The VL53L8 is ideal for smartphones and tablets in both user-facing and world-facing applications, but also for accessories in personal electronics equipment like smart speakers and AR/VR/MR. The user-facing applications include object tracking as well as gesture recognition. World-facing applications include laser-autofocus, camera selection, touch-to-focus, and flash dimming (particulary in low-light conditions). The sensor can also support indoor/outdoor detection and smart-focus bracketing, as well as LiDAR, where depth mapping is necessary.

Features of the VL53L8CA Multi-zone Time-of-Flight Ranging Sensor include:

  • Fully integrated miniature module
    • Emitter: 940 nm invisible vertical cavity surface emitting laser and integrated analog driver
    • 43.5 ° x 43.5 ° square (61° diagonal) system field of view (FoV) using diffractive optical elements on both transmitter and receiver
    • Receiving array of single photon avalanche diodes
    • Low-power microcontroller running Firmware
    • Size: 6.4 x 3.0 x 1.75 mm
  • Fast, accurate distance ranging
    • Up to 400 cm ranging
    • Parallel multi-zone output; either 16 (4x4) or 64 (8x8) discrete regions of interest
    • 60 Hz frame rate capability in 4x4 mode
    • Histogram processing and algorithmic compensation minimizes or removes impact of cover glass crosstalk
    • 50% less power consumption vs previous generation device
    • 2x ranging performance in ambient light levels with lower power consumption vs previous generation device
  • Easy system integration
    • Compatible with wide range of cover glass materials
    • Optional 1.2 V or 1.8 V IOVDD interface voltage levels
    • 1.8 V Core supply and 3.3V AVDD supply required
    • I²C (up to 1MHz) or SPI (up to 20MHz) interface
    • Interrupt output pin for efficient host control
    • Full set of software drivers (Linux and Android compatible) for turnkey ranging
    • Single reflowable component

More information on the VL53L8CA Multi-zone Time-of-Flight Ranging Sensor is available on the ST website at STMicroelectronics VL53L8CA product page.

The STMicroelectronics website address is www.st.com
[Reprinted with kind permission from STMicroelectronics - Release Date, 9th June, 2022]