Seeing in three dimensions
The innovative Efector PMD 3D camera from IFM Electronic is, the company asserts, the first industrial camera that sees in three dimensions at once. Integration of IFM's unique PMD (photonic mixer device) time-of-flight measurement sensing technology into a full vision chip, has allowed sensor
market leader the company to produce what looks like a really amazing device. The image sensor has 64 x 48 pixels imaging capability. And each pixel of this chip matrix evaluates its distance to the object, resulting in 3072 distance values. The image of the object on the matrix and the respective distance values therefore gives a 3D image.
The geometrical characteristics of the object or the scene can be read from these values. This means the object and the camera can be stationary, a single camera will see the three-dimensional scene directly.
With its own powerful built-in infrared light source the PMD 3D Camera provides the user with real-time image data, from as far away as 6.5m, comprising 3072 gray-scale and distance values for a low-cost solution to a variety of applications in all manner of walks of life. The 30° x 40° aperture means a large area can be viewed, leading to uses so far tested varying from people counting or detection, in one case for security purposes, to vegetable picking. IFM says the applications are limited only by the imagination; they could range from packaging, storage and materials handling, through airport logistics, vehicle detection, collision avoidance and robotics, to just monitoring if a space is occupied.
Designed for OEM use the O3D201 PMD 3D Camera utilises a downloadable software development kit, which provides all tools necessary for the system designer to integrate the 3D information into the control system. This gives the designer scope to create the right unit for the task. It thus complements the O3D200 unit designed for end user applications, where all evaluation is carried out internally.
The device has digital and analogue outputs for the user to scale or configure, and inputs for triggering or synchronisation. For interface with the eventual users there are two pushbuttons alongside the 10-digit display, or the designer could opt to leave the interface only at the Ethernet programming level.
The housing is robust, being die-cast zinc with polycarbonate optics, making it suitable for industrial use. The two connections on the housing, for power with inputs and outputs, as well the Ethernet programming port, use industrial standard M12 connectors for a good seal, maintaining the overall IP67 environmental protection rating. The 3D vision camera thus provides illumination, depth measurement and evaluation in one industrial housing. IFM describes it as exceptional technology in a very small space, and available for a surprisingly low cost.
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