Saturday, July 06, 2013

ToF Imaging Review

Imaging and Machine Vision Europe (IMVE) Magazine published a nice overview of ToF imaging status at different companies. Few quotes:

"'Time-of-flight is not a technique for ultra-high precision 3D imaging,’ notes Ritchie Logan, VP of business development at Scottish TOF company Odos Imaging, adding that applications requiring sub-millimetre precision over short distances are better solved using triangulation or structured light techniques. ‘The natural scale for time-of-flight imaging is over the range of one to 20 metres, with a precision of around 1cm,’ he says. Odos Imaging’s TOF system has a resolution of 1.3 megapixels, which makes it more suitable for industrial vision.

Odos’ sensor has a relatively simple pixel design, meaning the company can scale it to higher resolutions, while placing the majority of processing within the digital domain. The use of a simple pixel design also provides a dual benefit, in that each pixel can act to capture distance or intensity. In effect, the system can provide both data types, acting as a conventional camera during one frame before capturing 3D data during the next, says Logan.

"Pmd’s chips will be ready for mass-volume production by Infineon in 2014. The sensors for the consumer market will have resolutions of 160 x 120 pixels or 352 x 288 pixels."

"In a presentation at the Image Sensors conference (IS2013) in March, Jim Lewis, CEO of Swiss TOF company Mesa Imaging, set out what he considered were some of the myths surrounding what time-of-flight technology can achieve, one of which concerned its ability to operate outdoors. He said the technology needed improvement for outdoor applications, where direct sunlight, longer operating ranges, variable scenes, and bad weather conditions all make acquiring accurate 3D data difficult."


  1. If the target precision is low, then structured light solution doesn't need high precision calibration neither. Kinect remains a good solution for these applications from my point of view.

  2. Kinect is a fine example of a wonderful piece of hardware that is exceptionally well tuned to the single application for which it has been designed. This is even more apparent with the collateral accompanying the recent announcement of the new Kinect (rather confusingly called Kinect One) - which incidentally is a ToF based system.

    The MV sector neither has a single application or environment. And for these reasons a more flexible approach is required. For example, you could never consider use of a Kinect for any outdoor applications.


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