An innovative time-of-flight distance sensor supplied by ifm electronic is proving to be a popular exhibit in the Idea No59 zone at Glasgow Science Centre (GSC), one of Scotland’s most popular paid-for visitor attractions. Normally used in industrial applications for accurately determining the shape and position of objects, the sensor at GSC has been set up to produce images of visitors’ faces, based purely on distance measurements.
“The ifm sensor is in the Evolving Industry section of the Idea No59 zone, which showcases new ideas, methods and technologies that will shape the future of industrial automation and processes,” said Duncan Smith of Glasgow Science Centre. “What makes this exhibit particularly special is that visitors of all ages are captivated by this technology. By showcasing such advanced technology in a practical and accessible way, the sensor is ideal for demonstrating real-world applications in industry while also inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
The ifm sensor at GSC is a standard product from the company’s O3D range. It operates by scanning the target with a laser beam and measuring how long it takes the light reflected from the target to return to the sensor. Using this ‘time-of-flight’ information, the sensor can calculate the distance to the various parts of the target and translate these distances into an image where distance is coded as colour.
At GSC, the target is usually a visitor’s face, and the resulting image accurately shows the contours of the face. In industrial applications, the target would typically be a manufactured component, and the image from the sensor could, for example, be used to check that the component was properly formed and correctly oriented. Among the important benefits offered by O3D sensors in industry are that they capture shape and orientation data in real-time and they deliver results that are unaffected by target colour.
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