Toppan’s ToF 3D sensor R&D project was launched in 2017. With the collaboration of a research institute at Shizuoka University and other development companies, we have been developing our depth image sensors from the ToF pixel structure to pursue the finest depth image sensor for 3D sensing systems. Soon after, since 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic has shaken around the world. It affects lives and societies in various dimensions, from industrial and business stagnations to social relationships. Since then, social and industrial innovations, such as the emergence of various online communication technologies and DXs in the manufacturing industries, notably smart factories, and smart AGVs have been rapidly moving forward to overcome these difficulties.
The ToF sensor and its sensing technology have become more widely attracting attention as a key device of 3D sensing systems that supports those innovations. In March 2021, Toppan acquired Brookman Technology, Inc., proprietary ToF sensor design technology, as a subsidiary to accelerate 3D sensing R&D and commercialization. Since then, we have developed highly-practical ToF sensors that leverage the strengths of both companies. Toppan has entered the 3D image sensing industry market.
Toppan ToF Sensor
Time of flight (ToF) sensing is one of the 3D sensing methods by sensing the roundtrip ToF light between the camera and the target object. ToF sensing methods are basically categorized into indirect ToF (iToF) and direct ToF (dToF). iToF-based sensing measures distance by the phase difference between the light emitted from the light source and the light reflected back from the object. dToF-based sensing measures the time difference by counting the time directly between them. dToF method excels in long-range measurement and it is widely used in automated driving camera systems. On the other hand, iToF method excels at near-range measurement because of high-speed sensing with spatial resolution than dToF method. This method is suitable for the real-time detection of moving objects and gesture recognition applications.
Toppan ToF sensor is based on iToF method technology using short pulse modulated light. In addition, we have developed a hybrid ToF™ (hToF™) sensor which features both iToF and dToF sensing technologies(*1). hToF™ sensing method has been proposed by Dr. Shoji Kawahito and his research group in Shizuoka University (*2). We are currently accelerating in development toward the commercialization of this sensor. With these ToF sensors, Toppan offers a high spatial resolution 3D sensing system from near to medium ranges, which was difficult to achieve with conventional iToF sensors.
*1:[TOPPAN Official PR, 2022] Toppan and Brookman Technology’s Next-Generation Time-of-Flight Sensor Is World’s First Capable of Measuring Distances of up to 30 Meters
*2:[IEEE OJSSCS, 2021] S. Kawahito et al. “Hybrid Time-of-Flight Image Sensors for Middle-Range Outdoor Applications”
History of Toppan ToF Sensing Business
Synergy with Brookman Technology, Inc.
Brookman Technology, Inc. is a fabless semiconductor company that designs, manufactures, and sells CMOS image sensors such as ultra-high sensitivity, high speed, and World’s first 8K/120Hz high definition CMOS image sensor products. The company has also been researching several ToF depth image sensors for a long time and holds many unique patents. Toppan has long experience in the semiconductor business and established strong partnerships with many semiconductor supply chains to promote the semiconductor business. Toppan also owns various technologies and solution businesses within the Toppan Group as well as the semiconductor business.
TOF Business Development Center
Business Development Division