New Tech Tuesdays: Applications for Gesture and ToF Sensors on th
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New Tech Tuesdays: Applications for Gesture and ToF Sensors on the Rise Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesday

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Admit it. When it comes to gesture sensors, we all pretend we're Jedi Knights encountering Galactic Empire Stormtroopers. Thanks to us, things get done with a strained look paired with a hand gesture.

We can have our fun, but it can be serious business. Gesture and proximity sensors and Time-of-Flight (ToF) cameras are part of the motion-sensing technology that finds practical applications every day. Having a touchless interface with computing devices—interacting in a way we would interact with each other—has been a goal for developers.

On a commercial scale, hand-gesture sensors gained popularity with sensors in video games as early as 2010. The growing demand for Internet of Things applications is also a driver. Industrial sensors have many applications, including Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), security surveillance, robotics, augmented reality, 3D distance measurement, automation and control, and inventory management.

This week's New Tech Tuesdays looks at two gesture devices available for solution-based development on an automotive and industrial level.


Adding Sensors Creates Dynamic Experiences

Maxim Integrated MAX25205 Gesture Sensor for Automotive is ideal for designers of automotive systems who seek to add dynamic hand-gesture controls. Users will love the MAX25205's installation, meaning no more smeared fingers on the touch screens. MAX25205 offers photoelectric sensors that can detect hand-swipe gestures, finger and hand rotation, and proximity. MAX25205 also features integrated optics and a 6x10-element optical sensor array, allowing it to detect swipes and hand-rotation gestures without ToF cameras. MAX25205 also can detect gestures while exposed to bright ambient light. A low-power, low-cost CPU, such as the MAX32630, is required to process the data from the sensor. One big upside for those who use the technology: No smudges on automotive touch-screen displays that use gesture solutions.

Broadcom AFBR-S50MV85I Time-of-Flight (ToF) Sensor Module is optimized for industrial sensing applications for short to medium distances. Because of its ambient light suppression, the module can be used in outside environments. Its sensor accurately measures against white, black, and colored surfaces, as well as metallic and retroreflective surfaces. AFBR-S50MV85I sensors are developed to focus on applications requiring speeds of up to 3,000 frames per second (fps) with low power consumption (5V). Applications include HMI, security surveillance, robotics, augmented reality, 3D distance measurement, automation and control, and inventory management.


Global gesture recognition has a promising future as our devices' need for comfort and convenience keeps growing. According to Grand View Research, the market will likely reach a value of $30 billion (USD) by 2025 as the automotive, healthcare, and consumer electronics industries stimulate the majority of market growth. For Star Wars fans, it also means more ways to show off your powers of The Force.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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