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Date: 11-10-14

Distance measuring proximity sensor for both consumer and industrial electronics

Now you have a sensor that not only detects nearby object but also the distance from the sensor to the object. The new proximity sensor from STMicroelectronics based on FlightSense Time-of-Flight technology offers accurate distance measurement in range of applications.

The light-based sensor sense the object and the distance from the sensor by measuring the difference between emitted and reflected light. ST claims compared to other conventional infrared sensors, this new sensor measures longer ranges that are independent of the target reflectivity, at high frame rate and low power.

VL6180X proximity sensor module can be used for basic gesture recognition to simplify the user-interface design in consumer electronics products such as smartphones, tablets, and game controllers. LG has used this FlightSense technology to assist the laser auto-focus performance of its G3 smartphone.

There can be many cases of application in industrial electronics too for this proximity sensor.

VL6180X module is available in compact 4.8mm x 2.8mm x 1.0mm optical LGA12 package and can accurately measure the distance to objects at up to 100mm and even more depending on the operating conditions. The module provides an I2C interface for host control and reading ranging or ambient light level results, as well as two programmable GPIO pins that can be configured to implement threshold applications.

ST is providing VL6180X Explorer evaluation kit for the users to quickly get started with FlightSense technology, and also supports the development of applications in a real device. It combines a USB-pluggable STM32Nucleo board and VL6180X sensor shield containing the sensor, a 4-digit LED display, and a slider switch to control the ranging and ALS functions. The display shows either the distance to the target or the ambient light level.

The VL6180X sensor is in full production now, priced from $2.50 at the minimum order quantity of 5,000 units, and the VL6180X Explorer kit is available immediately, priced from $19.69 per unit.

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