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Analog Devices and Microsoft collaborate to mass-produce 3D imaging solutions

24 Sep 2020

Partners aiming to leverage Microsoft’s 3D time-of-flight sensor technology.

Diversified technology company Analog Devices (ADI) has announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to leverage Microsoft’s 3D time-of-flight (ToF) sensor technology.

The partners’ statement said they intend “to enable customers to easily create high-performance 3D applications that bring higher degrees of depth accuracy and work regardless of the environmental conditions in the scene.”

ADI’s technical expertise will build upon Microsoft Azure Kinect technology to deliver ToF solutions to broader audience in application areas such as Industry 4.0, automotive, gaming, augmented reality, computational photography and videography.

Market opportunities

“Currently,” state the companies, “the industrial market is seeing a push for 3D imaging systems that can be used in harsh environments where cutting-edge applications such as human-collaboration robots, room mapping, and inventory management systems are required to bring Industry 4.0 to life. ToF applications are also needed to create safer automobile experiences for drivers and passengers by outfitting vehicles with occupancy detection and driver monitoring capabilities.”

Duncan Bosworth, General Manager, Consumer Business Unit, at Analog Devices, commented, “Our customers want depth image capture that is as easy as taking a photo. Microsoft’s ToF 3D sensor technology used in the HoloLens mixed-reality headset and Azure Kinect Development Kit is seen as the industry standard for time-of-flight technologies.

“Combining this technology with custom-built solutions from ADI, our customers can easily deploy and scale the next generation of high-performance applications they demand, out of the box.”

ADI is designing, manufacturing, and selling a new product series of 3D ToF imagers, laser drivers, software and hardware-based depth systems that will provide the best depth resolutions in the market with millimetre accuracy. The company says it will start building full systems wrapped around CMOS imagers to deliver imaging with greater 3D detail and operating over greater distances.

Cyrus Bamji, Microsoft Partner Hardware Architect, said, “This collaboration will expand market access of our ToF sensor technology and enable the development of commercial 3D sensors, cameras, and related solutions, which will be compatible with a Microsoft ecosystem built on top of Microsoft depth, Intelligent Cloud, and Intelligent Edge platforms.”

ToF 3D sensor technology projects precisely controlled laser light in durations of nanoseconds, which then reflect from the scene onto a high-resolution image sensor giving a depth estimate for every pixel in the image array.

ADI’s new CMOS ToF products based on Microsoft’s technology enables highly accurate depth measurement, low noise, high robustness to multipath interference, and calibration solutions for ease of manufacturing. ADI’s products and solutions are already being sampled and the first 3D imaging products using Microsoft technology are expected to release by the end of 2020.

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