Time-of-flight camera launched at VISION 2012

Nov. 14, 2012
An Austrian company making its debut at last week's VISION 2012 show in Stuttgart, Germany took the wraps of a new miniature time-of-flight smart camera.

An Austrian company making its debut at last week's VISION 2012 show in Stuttgart, Germany took the wraps of a new miniature time-of-flight smart camera.

At Bluetechnix' (Wien, Austria) booth, engineers from the company revealed that they had designed the small 75x57x26 mm time-of-flight camera using PMD Technologies (Siegen, Germany) PhotonICs 19k-S3 time-of-flight imager.

This enables the Bluetechnix Argos3D-P100 3-D camera to deliver depth information and gray value image data for each pixel simultaneously. Hence, system integrators can use the camera to analyze scenes based on 3-D data only or in combination with 2-D grayscale data.

The camera itself illuminates a scene with IR light while the PMD Technologies sensor in the camera captures depth map and 160x120 pixel data at up to 160 frames per second. Processing of the data is handled on the camera by a Xilinx (San Jose, CA, USA) Spartan-6 FPGA.

With a range of 3m and a field of view of 90°, the USB2-based camera can be used in various applications such as robotics, gesture recognition or people counting.

The camera hardware itself is supported by software from Bluetechnix' partner Nisys (Bochum, Germany) who provide both operating system middleware and a graphical user interface. In the future, the company plans to increase the range of the camera to 10m and add an Ethernet interface to it.

A video of the Bluetechnix Argos3D-P100 3-D camera can be found on Youtube here.

On a related note, a small Scottish engineering consultancy recently announced that it too has developed a 3-D imaging camera using time-of-flight technology.

Peacock Technology (Stirling, UK) developed its custom camera -- which is also based around a 160x120 time-of-flight sensor -- for a robotic system for dairy parlors. To process the raw time-of-flight data and create 3-D images, the company developed its own custom image processing software.

Related articles on time-of-flight cameras you might also find of interest.

1. Time-of-flight camera captures images in 3-D

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS; Erlangen, Germany) have developed an embedded multisensor camera system that can be used for making time-of-flight (ToF) measurements and performing 3-D data analysis.

2. Time of flight provides cheaper technology option

Researchers led by MIT (Cambridge, MA, USA) Electrical engineering professor Vivek Goyal have developed a new time-of-flight (TOF) sensor that can acquire 3-D depth maps of scenes with high spatial resolution using just a single photodetector and no scanning components.

3. Scottish startup develops camera that captures 3-D images at video rates

A startup based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre has developed a camera that can capture 3-D images at video rates.

-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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