Electronic Design

3D Camera Makes Car Airbags Safer For All Passengers

While airbags have saved thousands of lives, many people fear their inability to distinguish between adult and child passengers. Some folks worry that airbags are ineffective and even dangerous when passengers aren't seated properly, too. Fortunately, International Electronics & Engineering may put their fears at ease.

IEE's Hybrid Camera System combines 2D and 3D technology to detect and classify the occupant's size and position. Specifically, the system's 3D Modulated Light Intensity (MLI) camera uses the optical time-of-flight principle to obtain direct distance information about passengers in its view. The camera generates a distance value matrix to obtain a topographical image. The system then accurately calculates the passengers' spatial locations. It also excludes misrepresentations between objects and textures or pictures, which often stump 2D imaging systems. The 3D data becomes available at the 3D matrix sensor output.

Mounted in the overhead console, the system can distinguish between children in child safety seats and adult passengers. It also can recognize passengers who are "out of position." Airbag control units could then optimally control the car's passive restraint systems before and during a collision, ensuring individual passenger safety.

IEE intends to market the 3D Hybrid Camera System in 2006. For more information, go to www.iee.lu.

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