STMictroelectronics – VL6180

3-in-1 time-of-flight module: VL6180 combines a light source, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor (ALS) in a single integrated module.

The VL6180 is the latest product based on ST’s patented FlightSense technology. The VL6180 module uses the time-of-flight measurement principle to implement a proximity sensor, offering significant advantages over conventional infra-red (IR) technology. The module also includes an ambient light sensor.

Key Benefits:

  • Absolute distance measurement
  • Fast and accurate
  • Independent of target reflectance
  • Supports simple gesture detection
  • Longer distances rang ingto 40 cm supported
  • High dynamic range ambient light sensor
  • Lux level derived directly from device output
  • Simple electrical support circuit, single power supply only
  • No additional optics or mechanical gasket required for product integration


  • Wireless
    • Gesture interfaces
    • Screen on/off
    • Volume control
  • Cleaning robots
    • Collision avoidance
    • Cliff detection
    • Wall tracking
  • Domestic appliances
    • Power on
    • Liquid level monitoring
  • Industrial machines
    • Object detection
  • Automotive
    • User interfaces
    • Cabin occupancy

System Architecture:

The VL6180 contains an array of SPAD (single photon avalanche diode) detectors. The SPAD array forms part of an advanced system architecture that can detect the arrival of individual photons and hence calculate the time taken for the photon to leave the module, hit the target and then return back to the module. Actual distance measurement combined with signal amplitude allows simple but robust gesture recognition to enable multiple use cases.

Furthermore the VL6180’s ultra-low-power system architecture is perfectly suited to the demanding requirements of wireless and consumer products.

Module Design:

All components to support the proximity sensor and ambient light sensor are embedded in the simple optical module. No mechanical gaskets or additional lens systems are required to complete the industrial design.

The module can be mounted on the host PCB using a standard reflow profile or flex attached.

Its unique time-of-flight properties allow the module to be hidden behind a wide variety of cover-glass materials. This enables very innovative product design with the possibility of removing the hole that normally forms part of the industrial design.

System Block Diagram:

See also

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