Thursday, December 27, 2012

TI Licenses Softkinetic's Technology, Enters ToF Market

PR Newswire: TI enters ToF 3D sensing market through licensing of Softkinetic's DepthSense pixel and sensor technology and iisu middleware for gesture recognition. TI opens a special web page devoted to its 3D ToF imaging solutions.

Mitch Reifel, Softkinetic's VP Sales, says: "TI has licensed SoftKinetic’s TOF pixel technology and has entered the TOF market with their own branded sensors (similar to an ARM licensing model). TI will also supply various chips around the sensor (power management, etc.) to provide a complete TOF system. The goal is obviously high-volume consumer electronics, where TI can leverage its large-scale manufacturing to bring down costs.

...we licensed our core pixel technology to TI, who will now manufacture and sell sensors (and support chips like a TOF controller) under their brand name.

...They will be combining this into a more integrated system over time (i.e. fewer chips), as well as adding other technology they have in the TI portfolio. Moving forward TI will provide a portfolio of sensors (they are announcing two so far with this announcement) and companies can go to TI for custom TOF chips, different array sizes, etc.

This model means that SoftKinetic is no longer a direct provider of TOF chips, but rather a technology licensing company for TOF technology.

"There are a plethora of applications that can benefit from the accuracy and resolution of this technology," said Gaurang Shah, VP of Audio and Imaging Products at TI. "Imagine an end equipment designer tilting, rotating, compressing and expanding a new product in 3D to inspect and evaluate it on their PC before committing to a hardware prototype. We believe our collaboration with SoftKinetic will ignite more applications like this, and foster further technology innovation to simplify the way we interact with machines."

So far the reference design from TI consists of:
  • 3D Time of Flight (ToF) Sensors:
    OPT8130 – QQVGA (160 x 120)
    OPT8140 – QVGA (320 x 240)
  • VSP5324 – Analog Front End
  • TFC – Time of Flight Controller
  • Supporting Solutions:
    Power Management
    LED Driver
Only sensitivity of the ToF sensors is specified:
  • OPT8130: 0.25 A/W at 870 nm
  • OPT8140: 0.15 A/W at 850 nm

TI's 3D Time of Flight (ToF) Sensor Chipset Solution

TI compares 3D camera technologies:

At CES 2013 TI will demo its new 3D ToF image sensor chipset inside 3D cameras that control a laptop and a smart TV to access and navigate movies, games and other content with the wave of a hand. The TV demonstration also features TI's OMAP 5 processor, which powers a natural user interface with gesture recognition and full-HD graphics (Flash player required):

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