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Advantages of Time of Flight Camera | Disadvantages of ToF Sensor

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of Time of Flight (ToF) Camera sensor. It mentions benefits or advantages of Time of Flight Camera and drawbacks or disadvantages of ToF Sensor.

What is ToF Camera Sensor ?

The ToF technology uses 3D imaging with the help of low cost CMOS pixel array and modulated light source. The ToF cameras are used in wide applications such as gesturing, sensing, scanning, printing, gaming, home entertainment, portable computing, depth measurement etc. The applications are categorized into gesture and non-gesture. Gesture applications convert human movements into symbolic directives for gaming consoles, smart TVs or other computing devices. Non-gesture applications include automotive, robotics & automation, 3D scanning for 3D copiers and 3D printers etc.

Time of Flight (ToF) measurement

Time of flight camera uses modulated light source to illuminate the scene. It observes reflected light from scene. It measures the difference in phase shift between illuminated signal and reflected signal and translates it to distance.

Figure depicts simple working principle of Time of Flight technique. The depth can be measured by following equation.
➨ Depth, d = c*ΔT/2;
Where c = Speed of light which is 3 x 108 m/s
ΔT = Time interval between light emission and received light by the camera sensor

It uses solid state laser or LED in near infrared range for illumination. It uses imaging sensor to detect reflected light. This imaging sensor converts the photon energy into electric current.

The light source can either be continuous or pulsed. Based on this, there are two types of ToF techniques viz. direct ToF and Indirect ToF. Refer DToF vs IToF >> for difference between Direct ToF sensor and Indirect ToF Sensor. There are three 3D vision technologies viz. Time of Flight (ToF), stereo vision and structured light >>.

Benefits or advantages of Time of Flight Camera

Following are the benefits or advantages of Time of Flight Camera:
➨ToF cameras are compact in construction and easy to use.
➨It offers higher accuracy and frame rates.
➨It offers fast response time compare to stereo vision and structured light technologies.
➨It offers good performance in low light and bright light environment conditions.
➨ToF technique is less sensitive to mechanical alignment.
➨3D ToF camera offers high Field of View, higher sensor resolution and high object classification.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of ToF Sensor

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of ToF Sensor:
➨Present ToF technology offers lower resolution compare to structured light but it is evolving rapidly.
➨Performance degrades due to strong ambient light (e.g. sunlight), multipath and scattered light scenarios. This has to be taken care in algorithm design of ToF camera.
➨Building ToF camera is complex due to calibration requirement.

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