ifm efector introduces the new 3D Image Sensor Using Smart Pixel Technology

ifm efector inc. introduces a new 3D Image Sensor that evaluates size, shape and level in material handling applications. The compact sensor uses time-of-flight distance measurement and photonic mixer device technology to identify an object in the sensor‘s field of view. An integrated 64 x 48 pixel array – in which each pixel represents a time of flight measurement – defines the field of view for the sensor.

The 3D sensor technology provides critical information in applications such as palletzing and de-palletizing, material handling, bulk level of materials and intelligent routing/sorting.

3D Image Sensor Uses Reliable Time of Flight Distance Measurement
The Photonic Mixing Device (PMD) principle is based on Time of Flight (TOF) distance measurement. In its most simple version, a light pulse is radiated from the sensor. This pulse is reflected by an object and detected by the sensor's smart pixel receiver element. A comparison between the optical and electrical reference signals yields an output signal that carries the desired distance information.

ifm's 3D image sensor's receiver element is a System-on-Chip design. The complete sensor element and electronics are built on a 0.25 mm square silicon chip. This miniature chip enables 3D imaging using Time of Flight, and reduces the size of the sensor and its cost. For image capture, the 3D sensor’s 64 x 48 pixel array projects 3072 points of reference, capturing the entire image in three dimensions.

The sensor also includes patented Suppression of Background Illumination (SBI). This technology allows the sensor to eliminate the effects of external lighting such as sunlight and internal high-powered lighting. This allows the sensor to be used in almost any indoor or outdoor application.

Robust, compact design for industrial applications
The solid-state, robust metal housing measures only 42 x 62 x 42 mm and is designed to withstand harsh environments and to perform in fast-moving applications. Application parameters are quickly established with the sensor’s Setup Wizard software that can be used with a PC. The Setup Wizard guides the user in a few steps to configure the application. The sensor can provide either digital or analog outputs.

List price for the 3D image sensor is $1450 (U.S.) which, according to ifm, is a benchmark in the industry. Systems such as LIDAR, stereo-vision, and long-range radars are typically 300-400% higher in cost compared to the ifm 3D image sensor.

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