Enabling Innovative Social-Distancing Applications with Proximity Sensors

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  • STMicroelectronics’ Time-of-Flight (ToF) proximity and ranging sensors has been implemented in smart distance-awareness portable devices
  • The sensors have highly accurate sensing capabilities at short distances

STMicroelectronics has announced that an Amsterdam-based startup called Aura Aware is using ST’s high-accuracy FlightSense Time-of-Flight (ToF)  proximity and ranging sensors in an innovative, smart distance-awareness portable device for use at retail counters and check-in desks, thus helping prevent disease transmission in response to the global pandemic situation. The easy-to-setup device displays a green OK signal that changes to red if a person crosses a safe minimum-distance threshold.

Aura Aware devices integrate ST’s VL53L1X compact ToF sensor, which has an operating range of up to four meters and very low power consumption. Signal processing built into the sensor simplifies design and provides sophisticated features such as crosstalk compensation that maintains measurement accuracy even if the sensor gets obstructed by an unknown object.

Accurate sensing

Time-of-Flight sensors transmit photons and then calculate the distance to the target based on the time it takes for the reflected photons to be received back by the sensor. Moreover, ranging accuracy is unaffected by surface characteristics such as clothing, colour or skin reflectivity of the target, making FlightSense ideal for helping people to maintain social distancing.

The sensors can also help users avoid contact with surfaces, including touchscreens, smart faucets and push-button door openers, located in high-traffic areas. The speed and precision of ToF sensing enable FlightSense sensors to manage basic on/off control as well as to detect and interpret gestures like tapping and swiping for smart touchless human-machine interaction.

Another use of these ToF sensors is their linear response when measuring short distances, which allows them to be used inside dispensing machines to detect the level of hand-sanitizing liquid or the number of personal protective items such as face masks.

“This innovative device from Aura Aware shows a highly creative use of our FlightSense technology. ST’s ToF sensors can help protect our health in many ways, ensuring both social distancing and touchless interaction with all kinds of products that we use every day,” said David Maucotel, Business Line Director, Imaging, STMicroelectronics.

The full portfolio of FlightSense ToF sensors is in production and available now.


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