Why ToF sensors need to target VR, AR apps

Article By : Junko Yoshida

Miniaturised MEMS ultrasound sensors embedded onto the AR/VR head unit offer a 360-degree immersive experience.

« Previously: Elliptic Labs: Gesture controls don’t go anywhere

Chirp CEO Michelle Kiang believes that its first and the best shot for its Time-of-Flight sensor lies in virtual and augmented reality applications.

Chirp has already rolled out to select customers “ultrasonic sensing development platform for VR/AR.”

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__Figure 1:__ *Chirp CEO Michelle Kiang shows off a VR headset embedded with Chirp’s MEMS-based ultrasonic transducers. (Source: EE Times) *

High-end VR/AR systems today are tethered to a base station or confined to a prescribed space. This is because additional sensor technologies, such as a camera-based system or a magnetic sensor system, need to be installed in the space, to create better tracking experiences by correcting “drift” by the inertial measurement unit (IMU) inside VR/AR head units.

Kiang demonstrated that miniaturised MEMS ultrasound sensors can now be easily embedded onto the AR/VR head unit. This affords users a 360-degree immersive experience, because the tracking system moves with the user.

The lack of a better interactive experience in low-end VR/AR systems is an obvious problem. Another is the high-end VR/AR system’s inability go mobile because it’s tethered to another sensor system, she explained.

Presence detection

Elliptic Labs is planning to extend its ultrasound technology to smart home devices for presence detection applications. Detecting the presence or absence of movement is critical to such devices as Amazon Echo or Google Home, because if they do know that nobody is around near, these appliances can switch off and save power. Compared to camera-based or infrared technologies, the ultrasonic sensing approach enables “a 360-degree dome field of view, with no need for direct line-of-sight. With its ability to work in bright light or darkness, it costs less and consumes less power compared to other sensing technologies," said the company.

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__Figure 2:__ *Elliptic Labs’ illustrates how its new ultrasonic presence detection technology does not need the line of sight. (Source: EE Times)*

Strutt said, “Ultimately, users want to tell a smart appliance, something like, ‘hey, turn the rights off when nobody is around.’”

First published by EE Times U.S.

« Previously: Elliptic Labs: Gesture controls don’t go anywhere

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