Researchers Use Light Radar Technology for Motion and Depth Sensing Over Long Distances

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have developed a light radar system (Lidar) that can remotely sense objects across distances as far as 30 feet -- an advancement with massive potential for video games, self-driving cars and smartphones.
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Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have developed a light radar system (Lidar) that can remotely sense objects across distances as far as 30 feet -- an advancement with massive potential for video games, self-driving cars and smartphones.
hand

Photo Credit: Ben Hosking/Flickr

Imagine your mobile phone ringing across the room while you're in the kitchen cooking a meal. You wave at your phone with your hand, and the ringer is silenced. That's the promising potential of new advancements in 3D sensing.

Currently, consumer 3D imaging technology is limited when it comes to distances -- it isn't able to go beyond a few feet. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found a way to use light radar technology, or Lidar, that can sense depth and motion over long distances. 

laser sensing

Photo Credit: Niels Quack

The Lidar system can remotely sense objects over a distance of 30 feet, or 10 meters. This could benefits several industries, including entertainment, transportation, robotics and mobile devices. It works by combining Lidar with micro-electrical-mechanical system (MEMS) and tunable vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). Basically, this means it emits laser light of increasing or decreasing frequency from a low-powered laser. 

Current Lidar technology involves large boxes and are affected by Brownian noise limitation, which causes excessive interferences. The new technology is smaller and requires less power. Researchers are still scaling down the technology, and hope to eventually fit it on a microchip.