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Time-of-Flight camera is powered by Jetson TX2

Jun 19, 2019 — by Eric Brown 3,967 views

Lucid Vision Labs unveiled a MIPI-CSI2 equipped “Helios Embedded” version of its new Helios Time of Flight 3D camera that combines a Jetson TX2 with a Sony DepthSense IMX556PLR ToF sensor with under-5mm accuracy at 0.3 to 1.5 meters.

Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology spans a range of infrared laser scanners from 3D imaging and navigation systems found on autonomous robots and self-driving cars to the camera flash mechanism inside the Huawei Honor View 20 phone. Most ToF cameras are controlled from a Windows or Linux PCs, such as the Basler ToF Camera, the Terabee 3Dcam 80×60, or Lucid Vision Labs’ Helios ToF Camera, which was announced last October and is due to ship later this month. Now Lucid has announced a similar Helios Embedded version of the Helios ToF due in Q4 2019 that can operate autonomously thanks to its Jetson TX2 module.

Helios Embedded camera (left) and adapter board with Jetson TX2 in the rear
(click image to enlarge)

No pricing was listed for either of the Helios cameras. ToF cameras tend to be a lot more expensive than 3D sensing stereo vision cameras such as E-con’s Jetson TX2-based TaraXL, but they offer greater precision and accuracy. Applications for Helios Embedded are likely the same as for the Helios ToF, which supports Linux and Windows PCs: “a variety of industrial applications, including robotic navigation, 3D inspection and logistic automation such as bin-picking and package dimensioning.”

Helios Embedded camera (left) and dimensions
(click images to enlarge)

The Helios Embedded has the same imaging device as the Helios. The Sony DepthSense IMX556PLR ToF image sensor features high NIR (Near Infrared Spectrometer) sensitivity, 10μm pixel size, high modulation contrast ratio, and 59⁰ x 45⁰ field of view. This 1/2-inch, 0.3-megapixel, back-illuminated sensor (BSI) device has 640 x 480-pixel resolution with 30fps frame rates.

Helios Embedded
3D point cloud
and depth map images

Like the Helios, the Helios Embedded provides 4x VCSEL laser diodes @ 850nm. The camera calculates depth data by measuring the time it takes for light emitted from the diodes to reflect off objects and return to the sensor. By repeating this process at different points on the object’s surface from every angle, it can create a precise 3D image.


Like the tethered Helios ToF Camera, the Embedded model offers accuracy of less than 5mm at a range of 0.3 to 1.5 meters and precision of less than 2mm at 1m. A less accurate “far mode” is also available at up to 6m.

The Helios Embedded camera streams data via a 4-lane MIPI-CSI2 interface over a ribbon cable to the camera adapter board with Jetson TX2. The adapter board can stream at the same resolution over Gigabit Ethernet. It supports the GigE Vision 2.0 and GenICam3 standards.

The 55 x 55 x 43.7mm, 107 gram Helios Embedded camera has an S-mount lens with 6mm focal length and manual exposure control. Together with the adapter board, it consumes less than 15W. The combined device supports -10 to 60°C temperatures and is compliant with the Class 1 IEC 60825-1:2014 eye safety standard. No specs were available on the camera adapter board, which appears to have some additional ports and connectors in addition to the GbE port.

Helios ToF Camera (left) and its imaging board
(click images to enlarge)

The Helios Embedded outputs in three formats: 3D Point Cloud, Intensity, and Confidence. A software Development Kit is available that features GPU-accelerated depth processing to exploit the special capabilities of the Jetson TX2’s 256-core Pascal graphics. Presumably, it also supports access to the GPU’s CUDA libraries for machine vision and other AI capabilities. The Linux-powered TX2 module also has two “Denver” Arm CPU cores along with 4x Cortex-A57 cores, 8GB of LPDDR4, 32GB of eMMC 5.1, and WiFi and Bluetooth.

Helios Embedded
sample images

The SDK is a version of the Arena SDK that runs on the Helios ToF camera. ArenaView offers both 2D and 3D views. With 2D you see the intensity and depth of the scene from the camera’s perspective. The 3D view displays a “point cloud” of the scene, letting you rotate and otherwise manipulate the orientation in real-time.

ArenaView lets you change settings in real-time such as false color overlay, depth range adjustments, and out-of-range color settings. The SDK supports C, C++, C#, and Python.

Further information

The Helios Embedded will be available in Q4 2019, and the Helios ToF Camera will be available by the end of the month. No prices were listed. More information may be found on the Lucid Vision Labs Helios product page. We saw the Helios Embedded announcement on Novus Light Technologies Today.

Lucid is demonstrating the Helios Embedded and Helios ToF Camera at Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference through June 20 in Long Beach, Calif. It’s also showing a new 31.4-megapixel Atlas 5GBASE-T camera. The Atlas 5GBASE-T features a Sony Pregius IMX342 APS-C 4/3” global shutter CMOS sensor with a resolution of 6464 x 4852 running at 17.9 fps. The company also offers Triton and Phoenix GigE Vision PoE cameras modules.

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