Auto Electronics

Canesta patents ambient light sensor technology

Canesta has been granted U.S. Patent No. 6,919,549 (“Method and System to Differentially Enhance Sensor Dynamic Range”), which the firm said covers its SunShield technology that allows image sensors to operate effectively in extreme sunlight and rapidly changing lighting conditions. The technology can be used in automotive safety applications.

Canesta president Jim Spare predicted that vehicles will be equipped with sensors able to resolve objects and persons in real-time and three dimensions. “But to be practical, sensors will have to detect, for example, a car rushing past the shadows of nearby trees – without making errors in discrimination.”

Canesta’s electronic perception technology features low-cost, fingertip-sized sensors able to recognize objects in real time, and separate them out from any background, using RADAR-like ranging techniques accomplished with infrared light. Automotive applications include “smart” airbags, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, backup warning systems, pedestrian detection, and parking assistance.

Canesta’s technology uses bursts of infrared light from lasers or light-emitting diodes to illuminate the field of view, then measures the “time of flight” that photons of infrared light take to bounce off nearby objects and return to the sensor. From this, the sensor chips form a real-time, 3-D image at 30 frames per second or better, which can be used to detect objects.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. has invested more than $5 million in Canesta over the past three years,
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