Gesture recognition for touchless control—initially a feature of high-end vehicles—is now available in a cost-conscious design package, and it’s ready to serve consumer and industrial applications. A time-of-flight (ToF) multizone ranging sensor, along with companion software, enables hand tracking and thus recognition of gestures like tapping, swiping, level control, and more.
That, in turn, can enhance several device designs, including kitchen appliances, thermostats, smart-home and smart-lighting controls, laptops, AR/VR headsets, tablets, and smartphones. Touchless gestures can also help prevent infections from spreading through vending and ticketing machines, elevator controls, and interactive signage systems.
So far, design engineers have been developing gesture-recognition systems via more expensive and intrusive camera-based machine vision. That, besides cost concerns, leads to user privacy issues and boosts power usage. Additionally, it doesn’t work in the dark without external illumination.
What STMicroelectronics has done is add free engineering software to its VL53L5CX multi-zone ToF ranging sensor, and the two jointly calculate the X/Y/Z coordinates of the hand in real-time. The STSW-IMG035 software package is specially designed for the VL53L5CX multi-zone direct time-of-flight (dToF) ranging sensors.
The sensor provides 64 zones with high accuracy, ranging up to 400 cm with a wide, square-edged 63°-diagonal field of view. It operates alongside a low-power microcontroller, which runs the lightweight gesture algorithm and demands minimal system resources. This gesture-recognition system can be used with all STM32* microcontrollers.
The VL53L5CX sensor, in production now, comes in a 6.4 mm x 3.0 mm x 1.5 mm 16-pin optical LGA package. It’s priced from $3.90 for orders of 1,000 pieces.
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- What’s Next for Human-Machine Interface: Touchless Control
- Time-of-flight measurements open up user-interaction scenarios
- ST offers touchless gesture control with new software for ToF sensor
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