Time-of-flight sensor brings gesture recognition to car cockpit

June 23, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Belgian chipmaker Melexis is utilizing the time-of-flight 3D motion sensing technology from software company SoftKinetics, also from Belgium, to implement a sensor chip that detects gestures to control several functions within the car. Thus, the Melexis chip enhances the range of basic technologies to be employed in Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs): Besides pusing buttons, turning knobs or issue spoken instructions to the vehicle, now HMI concepts also can include gestures. The technology will be used in the infotainment domain in the first place.

The MLX75023 camera sensor, featuring SoftKinetic technology and manufactured in Melexis' Automotive grade CMOS mixed signal process, is the highest resolution 3D sensor available. Unlike competing implementations, it works in full sunlight, making it the perfect solution for a vehicle’s cockpit. It can be used for natural 3D gesture recognition and driver monitoring, bringing a new level of infotainment navigation control and safety features.

The MLX75023 features a resolution in QVGA format (320 x 240 pixel). It represents an implementation of SoftKinetic’s DepthSense 3D Imaging technology and will typically be used with that company's image processing software. According to Melexis, the sensor is capable of understanding even very subtle human gestures as well as the shape, size and behavior of objects and people inside the car. Now drivers can adjust the temperature and radio, or make a phone call, using simple gestures and without taking their eyes off the road. Additional capabilities of the sensor allow for driver behavior monitoring as well as context awareness, creating a safer environment for every passenger in the vehicle.

Features of the MLX75023 sensor include:

● High ambient light robustness

● Suitable for LED or laser illumination

● Sensor modulation up to 40 MHz

● Small glass BGA package

● Up to 600frames/s raw frame rate

● Qualified for AEC-Q100 grade 2

Both companies will showcase the technology at the CAR HMi event June 26-27, 2014 in Berlin

Related links and articles:

Melexis utilizes time-of-flight technology for collision avoidance system

SoftKinetic and Dynamixyz partner on facial motion capture