The time-of-flight method is a very efficient technology for generating depth data and measuring distances. A ToF camera provides two kinds of information for each pixel: the intensity value (gray value) and the distance of the object to the sensor, namely the depth value.
The Time-of-Flight technique is further broken down into two different methods, continuous wave and pulsed Time-of-Flight. Pulsed Time-of-Flight measures distances based on the travel time for pulses of light. This requires extremely quick and precise electronics. The current state of technology allows for the creation of precise light pulses and their exact measurement at manageable costs. The required sensors work at a higher resolution than those for the continuous wave process, as their smaller pixels allow the sensor surface to be used more efficiently.
An integrated light source sends out light pulses that strike an object and are reflected back to the camera. The distance and thus the depth value of each individual pixel is calculated on the basis of the time traveled by the light until it reaches the sensor again. This is used to generate a point cloud simply and in real time, while also providing an intensity and confidence map at the same time.
Field of application
The ToF process is well suited for volume measurements, palletting tasks and autonomous driving vehicles in a logistics and production environment. ToF cameras can also help in the medical field with the positioning and monitoring of patients and in factory automation with robot control and bin picking tasks.