Collaborative robots, self-driving cars, flying taxis, augmented reality (AR) – this is the exciting future that we’re told is just around the corner. But what we’re not being told is that without accurate 3D sensors, this high-tech, automated future will be nothing more than science fiction. “The greatest challenge for the future of automation lies in the sensor technology that can produce real-time and accurate 3D information from the surrounding environment,” says Jouni Halme, co-founder of Ladimo Smarter Vision. “This information is the starting point for many of the applications that will define our future, be it machinery, robots, assisted or autonomous driving, AR/VR, or facial recognition.” With the support of EU funding, Ladimo is developing Smarter Vision Micro (The most accurate 3D sensor in the world), a real-time miniaturised 3D optical system that will allow these applications to safely interact with their surrounding environment.
A more compact sensor
The Smarter Vision Micro solution is essentially a miniaturised version of Ladimo’s existing real-time 3D sensor. “A more compact sensor will enable such advanced capabilities as gesture control, vital sign monitoring, heartbeat measurements, facial recognition, and a range of safety features – all of which are essential to advancing automation in the consumer electronics, automotive and robotic sectors,” explains Halme. Although still a work in progress, the project has already achieved several important results. For example, the core components of the Smarter Vision Micro solution, including the laser, camera, optics, and diffractive optical element (DOE), have all been selected and are undergoing initial testing. According to Halme, as these tests are being conducted with potential partners, they allow researchers to learn a lot about the unique requirements of different industries. “One of the most important things we’ve learned so far is that our algorithm can be run in real time within a mobile phone platform,” he adds. “This discovery has opened the door to commercialising not only the Smarter Vision Micro solution as a whole, but also some of its individual components.”
Pilots and patents planned
While the project continues to progress, Ladimo is currently focused on finalising the 3D sensor platform. One of the biggest challenges in doing so is securing the necessary hardware components. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put a monkey wrench in global supply chains, so delivery time for some essential components can be over 4 months,” remarks Halme. Once these components are secured and integrated into the final solution, the company is excited to begin piloting the 3D sensor with its strategic partners. In the meantime, Ladimo has secured a patent for the solution in Finland and is now looking to do the same in such global markets as Europe, China, Japan and the United States. The project is set to conclude in September 2022.
Smarter Vision Micro, automation, sensor technology, 3D, autonomous robots, autonomous systems, self-driving cars, flying taxis, augmented reality