Proximity sensors encourage social distancing

Monday, 27 July, 2020 | Supplied by: STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

FlightSense proximity and ranging sensors from semiconductor company STMicroelectronics are helping prevent disease transmission in innovative products developed in response to the global pandemic situation.

Time-of-flight (ToF) sensors transmit photons and then calculate 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 of the target, such as clothing colour or skin reflectivity, making FlightSense ToF sensors particularly useful for helping people to maintain social distancing.

Amsterdam-based start-up Aura Aware is now using ST’s FlightSense technology in a smart distance-awareness portable device suitable for use at retail counters and check-in desks. The easy-to-set-up 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 4 m 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 window becomes obscured by foreign material.

“This innovative device from Aura Aware shows a highly creative use of our FlightSense technology,” said David Maucotel, Business Line Director, Imaging, STMicroelectronics.

The sensors can also help users avoid contact with surfaces, including self-service 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 advantage of ST’s 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-sanitising liquid or the number of personal protective items such as face masks.

“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,” Maucotel concluded.

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