TDK Fits Ultrasonic ToF Sensors in Small Form Factor

From TDK Corporation comes the second-generation ultrasonic Time-of-Flight (TOF) sensors from the SmartSonic family. Chirp ICU-10201 and ICU-20201 are high-performance, ultra-low power integrated ultrasonic ToF sensors for short- and long-range detection.

The new MEMS sensors embed a more powerful on-chip processor with higher computational power. The enhanced processing capabilities allow a wide range of application algorithms to fit and to run on-chip. This completely offloads the system MCU.

ICU-20201 ultrasonic ToF sensor

“With the introduction of the ICU-10201 and the ICU-20201, TDK continues to expand the SmartSonic product family. (The products) enhance everyday objects making them greener, safer, and more aware of the surrounding environment,” said Massimo Mascotto, Director of Product Marketing, Chirp, a TDK group company.

In line with the strong shift driven by the recent pandemic, the sensors allow the implementation of touchless control for appliances located in public areas. These include factories, schools, train stations and airports, thus enabling increased personal safety. They are applicable to a wide range of electronic sensing applications, like robotics for collision avoidance.

ICU-x0201 ultrasonic ToF sensor

Key Features

ICU-10201 and ICU-20201 are high-performance ultrasonic ToF sensors integrating piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducer (PMUT) with an ultra-low-power SoC in a 3.5 × 3.5mm2 reflowable package.

The MEMS sensors provide accurate range measurements at distances up to 5m over a wide and configurable field-of-view (FoV) on any surface and under any lighting condition. The ICU-20201 MEMS sensor is ideal for long range measurement applications with accurate range between 20cm and 5meters. Meanwhile, the ICU-10201 MEMS sensor suits short range applications with accurate range measurements to targets up to 1.2m away.

They deliver high computational power due to a powerful embedded processor and extended memory space, allowing complete application algorithms directly on the chip.

On-chip sensing algorithm

Improvements from Previous Generation

Compared with previous generation, the latest ultrasonic ToF sensors feature higher-performance, improved quality and repeatability, and faster communication, simple system and lower power.

Higher Performance

The ICU-10201 and ICU-20201 embed a digital signal processor with hardware multiplier, which is 10 time faster than previous generation, for higher calculation power. They have three times larger code memory, two times larger data memory.

Quality & Repeatability

The second generation integrates a non-volatile memory where an electronic serial number is added and trim.

Differentiating from infrared sensors, TDK’s ultrasonic time-of-flight sensor measurements are achieved in any lighting condition, including full sunlight, and provides millimeter-level accuracy, independent of the target’s color and optical transparency.

Faster Communication

The new generation has a much faster serial peripheral interface up to 13MHz with  wider range of up to 3.3Vm, eliminating the need for level shifter. It also integrates a DNA controller that allows data arbitration between the data memory between SPI, PMUT transceiver and CPU with no data loss, enabling faster communication between the sensor and the MCU. It promotes a much simpler system as the level shifter is no longer needed.