We've created a knowledge base with Frequently Asked Questions for you to get quick help.
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The 3D cameras of the pmd 3D Sensing Family provide a digital stream of raw data. This data is used for depth calculation on the host system, using SW (Royale SDK).
Output, provided by the Royale SDK:
a. Royale provides a 3D point cloud of x, y, z data, gray value and confidence.
b. The gray image provides an IR image of the amplitudes. The amplitude values represent the amount of the reflected light of the VCSEL laser.
The devices of the CamBoard pico family are 3D camera development kits, working based on Time-of-Flight (ToF). Each device consist of VCSEL lasers and a 3D imager.
VCSEL laser is sending out modulated IR light, the reflection of the modulated light is received by the 3D imager. The 3D imager is measuring the phase shift of the modulated light and by this the distance to the target.
All 3D camera Development Kits which are listed on the product page are Laser Class 1. Please mind that the housing belongs to the protection circuit of the laser safety. Don’t remove the label of the backside from the camera. This is a very important label which has essential information, like certification and S/N. Furthermore, it is a guarantee for us that the customer doesn’t open the housing.
Saturation happens when the exposure time is too long. No distance information is generated. The easiest way to avoid is by reducing the exposure time or by using the auto exposure.
In case of low signal (caused by low reflective targets), no distance information is generated. The best way to avoid this is changing the use case to a mode with higher exposure time.
Stray light is light that scatters randomly in the optical lens system. That means that not only the light coming from a specific point in the scene reaches a corresponding pixel on the image sensor, but also a mixture of light reflected from other targets. Typical scenarios with stray light are high reflective targets close to the camera (e.g. white table). Therefore, the most effective way is to remove stray light causing objects from the environment.
In addition, there is SW filtering to mitigate this effect.
Multi path interference occurs when modulated light scatters around within the scene. In such cases, beside of the direct reflection of the target, some reflections from other targets are mixed into the distance measurement.
Typical scenarios with multi path interference are when high reflecting targets are close to those with low reflection. With measuring on 2 frequencies, this effect can be detected.
On Royale, by default the pixel with multi path interference are filtered out.
pmd´s Time-of-Flight technology is very robust against ambient light due to the patented SBI (Suppression of Background Illumination).
The SBI is an in-pixel circuitry that subtracts ambient light and therefore prevents the pixels from saturating.
Further improvement of ambient light robustness can be achieved with optical filters (bandpass) and / or coated lenses.
The illumination power plays an important role, so rule of thumb is: the more active illumination is used the more range can be achieved and the more robust the system is against ambient light. The pmd 3D sensing family cameras have been optimized for indoor use. They will also work in sunlight but please note that the data will be more noisy or in other words the usable range will decrease.
Changing light source to 940 nm wavelength: The sunlight spectrum has a dip of amplitude in the range of 940 nm; therefore a performance increase is possible
For 3D cameras of the pico family, interference is minimized based on a technique called SSC.
SSC (Spread Spectrum Clock): permanent shifting of modulation frequencies to minimize the chance that two cams work with the same modulation frequency.
Since the distance image is calculated out of 5 to 9 raw images, distance changes within this measuring time will lead to signal inconsistency.
The best way for mitigation is to shorten the time to capture the raw images. This can be done by reducing the exposure time. In case there is a need for range and for depth data in parallel, the use cases „mixed mode“ are recommended. There are 2 data streams in parallel. One stream is used for the range and the other one for the fast moving objects.
When a pixel is directly at the corner of an object, the reflected light is a mix of the object and the background distance. As a result, the calculated distance is in the middle between object and background. Flying pixels are detected by Software and filtered out.
Below a distance of 10 cm, the image gets blurry. In general, the technology can handle distances below this threshold. But an adaptation of the 3D camera would be needed.
For the individual measurement ranges of our 3D cameras, please see the data sheets on the website.
Accuracy is the precision of a distance measurement over several measurement frames.
It is a measure how precise distance is measured e.g. while changing exposure time.
Repeatability is the precision of a frame-by-frame distance measurement.
It is a measure how noisy the distance measurement is.
The values in the data sheet includes accuracy and repeatability.
The reflectivity coefficient describes the percentage of the light returned from the target. Targets with high reflectivity can be detected on long distances.
The values in the data sheet are based on a 75% reflection of a Lambertian reflector.
Due to the periodicity of the frequency modulation the unambiguous range for the distance calculation is limited. The 3D cameras of the pico family provide some flexibility in the unambiguity ranges. It can be modified by the use cases, provided in SW.
In use cases with high frame rates and low range, the unambiguity range is ~2.5 m.
In use cases with frame rates up to 25 fps, the unambiguity range is 7.5 m.
If not noted differently, the measurement ranges in the data sheets are defined in indoor light conditions with moderate background light.
Outdoor light conditions: On strong ambient light (e.g. sunlight), some light from the sun will still pass through the optical filter of the camera. In general, the system is quite robust against it due to the patented circuitry (SBI – Suppression of Backgrund Illumination).
a. In bright sunlight, the measurement range of the 3D camera is reduced.
b. In bright sunlight, the noise of the distance measurement increases.
The flexx2 and the SoM come with pmd´s powerful software suite Royale, containing all the logic to operate the 3D camera. Royale SDK is cross-platform compatible and runs on Windows, Linux/ARM, Ubuntu Linux, macOS and Android/ARM.
Visit the Software page to download Royale SDK.
The package includes a visualization tool, the Royale Viewer. The SDK to develop your own applications is C++ based and supports also several programming languages and libraries like ROS, OpenCV, OpenNI2, Matlab.
The password for the Royale software package to operate the camera can be found on the card, which was laying on the top of your device or in the Getting Started guide.
The Royale viewer is a tool to control the camera and to view the 3D and gray values, provided by the Royale API. With this viewer, different modes and settings can be explored. In addition, the viewer provides data to export 3D data in the PLY format.
The Royale API to develop your own applications is C++ based and supports also several programming languages and libraries like ROS1, ROS2, Python, OpenCV, OpenNI2, C, DotNet.
Royale is tested on the following hardware configurations:
Also make sure to fullfill the requirements, when working with one of these platforms:
In principle, pmd is open licensing software commercially. Details are to be discussed under NDA.
Yes, each measurement frame can be exported to the polygon file format (PLY).
Level 1 is defined to deliver good 3D data. Data which are not valid are filtered or discarded, only valid data are kept.
Level 2 allows access to raw data and processing parameters in addition. If processing parameters are being changed, it can lead to worse data performance on specific scenarios. Therefore it needs to be understood what is intended to be achieved with level 2 access.
In a dusty environment, clouds of dust can create temporal distance values. These distance values are changing from cycle to cycle. A mitigation strategy is to use a method of removing flying pixels.
If your camera has a defect, please contact us to initiate a replacement.