New applications for Time-of-Flight technology

In addition to Chronoptics’ successes in automotive applications and other markets, as we’ve mentioned earlier, the University of Waikato time-of-flight research team continues to develop new insights and techniques to improve the technology. Their recent research is opening up opportunities in zone-based smart-sensing for safety, security and automated touchless interactions at ranges of up to 10 metres.

Existing distance-sensitive technologies in these application areas (like ultrasonic, radar or infra-red sensors, for example) have no, or very poor spatial resolution. An infra-red sensor can detect if there is movement in a room, for example, but it cannot say where the movement is in the room. Active ultrasonic or radar methods can locate objects in 3D space, but they do so by scanning a beam across that space, which means the location and motion of an object is measured very imprecisely and slowly.

In contrast, time-of-flight methods measure the distance to objects in the image at every pixel simultaneously, and precisely. Recent improvements in the technology mean object motion and reflective surfaces in the field of view, which had previously made safety, security and touchless interaction applications very challenging are now much less important than they were previously. WaikatoLink and Chronoptics are currently exploring a range of opportunities in these areas, from easily movable virtual security and safety fences to interactive digital billboards.

If you may have an interest in applications in this area, please contact Commercialisation Specialist Doug Hillyer at

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