VCSEL-based device for Time-of-Flight (ToF) enables breathtaking optical effects for smartphone photography
Capturing pictures is accessible by anybody and at anyplace, thanks to smartphones. And in the search for the perfect picture, several apps are available that come with filters or editing features to enhance images. But despite all this, some effects can only be achieved by professional cameras with sophisticated and often high-priced lenses.
Now an intelligent emitter module for 3D sensing allows smartphones to take high-quality images and videos with staggered depth of field. In portrait shots the person’s face remains in focus, while the background becomes blurred. Besides optimising image content, the module can also be used for 3D object recognition or augmented reality apps.
The module features a black package, a 3-Watt infrared VCSEL with a wavelength of 940 nanometers (nm), a matching optical system, an integrated intelligent microcontroller for driving the VCSEL and a photodiode. The VCSEL technology ensures low power consumption and facilitates not only energy management, but also the integration of the component into the end device. The high optical power enables the acquisition of depth information by ToF technology at a distance of up to seven meters.
Some interesting features include:
- Switching time: 0.5 nanoseconds
- Slope efficiency: 0.95 watts/ampere
- Field of view: 64 degrees x 51 degrees
While desgigning, eye safety was also taken into consideration. Therefore, special safety mechanisms are integrated in the module. If the photodiode registers a change in the incidence of light – for example, if the optics are damaged after a fall – the current supply to the VCSEL is interrupted.
Together with individual components, the module has a footprint of 3.6 mm x 5.46 mm and is available from Osram.