Sony is making strides into the emerging technology sector with the mass roll-out of its new time-of-flight (ToF) image sensor. The improved accuracy of depth map production in the latest sensor model is a formidable string to the bow of the tech-builders’ autonomous vehicle capability.
The Japanese electronics giant has released its 1/2-type, VGA resolution sensor as part of its DepthSense range for use in autonomous operations, VR, AR and mixed reality systems. ToF refers to the measurement of time it takes for light to reflect from a surface to the sensor. The latest product stamps Sony as no lightweight competitor in the race to driverless cars, in which Apple, Google (Waymo), Tesla and Uber are fierce competitors.
Sony claim the 9mm component provides enhanced distance measurement capability owing to their development of 10µm square pixel. The tiny gadget detects distance information for every pixel, creating more accurate depth maps, the company promise. Images produced are back-illuminated.
While typical ToF sensors have trouble measuring distances of up to 10m, Sony say its IMX456QL model has a “sensitivity raising mode” to improve performance in this range. Its distance precision rate at 1m is 6mm in ambient light (2k lux), producing an image size of diagonal 8.0mm. Its close range distance is 30cm. Additionally, the tech captures depth maps at a rate of 120fps and supresses some distortion of moving subjects. Sony says this functionality creates better depth maps than laser scan object distance measurement.