LG and Microsoft partner on 3D sensing camera

  • March 10, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

South Korean firm LG Innotek is working with Microsoft to proliferate its cloud-connected 3D sensing camera.

LG has developed 3D sensing modules based on Microsoft time-of-flight (ToF) technology. And the two firms are collaborating to commercialise the cloud connected 3D cameras.

The collaboration will provide easy access to create 3D vision applications for multiple industries such as fitness, healthcare, logistics and retail using Microsoft’s Azure depth platform.

Locating the position of objects is an important aspect of scene analysis. Obtaining this information directly from a 3D ToF camera rather than inferring it from one or more 2D cameras simplifies the analysis and enhances robustness. The 3D cameras are suitable for robust computer vision analysis with less computation for many commercial use cases. Yet, 3D camera design and manufacturing require special technology in illumination, sensor level understanding and optical design capability, which is limited to few camera module makers.

LG Innotek has combined its drive techniques and optical technologies to create high performance and slim multi-camera modules. The company has done so by its product design, production capacity, quality control and technologies for core components such as in light sources and lenses.

Microsoft has over 20 years of experience in the 3D sensing field, spanning from pixel to chip, from modules to cameras, from algorithms to software, from characterisation to calibration and manufacturing process tuning. This Microsoft 3D sensing knowhow was used to build Microsoft Hololens and Azure Kinect Devkit.

The Azure depth platform programme was created to proliferate Microsoft 3D sensing technology and drive large scale innovation via an ecosystem of semiconductor makers, independent hardware and software vendors, and system integrators building cameras, 3D vision software and cloud services Combining Microsoft ToF depth sensing technology with the Azure intelligent edge and cloud platforms is improving computer vision applications.

With this collaboration, the two companies aim to drive value to the Azure ecosystem across multiple industries. For example, LG Innotek’s 3D ToF cameras can be used with Azure in fitness applications to measure motions more precisely. In healthcare, they can be used to measure patients’ posture and body shape and conduct robot-assisted surgery. Partners in the retail or logistics industries can use the technology to manage inventory and analyse customer traffic. In factories, these cloud-connected cameras can monitor and analyse production lines to prevent accidents.

“LG Innotek brings world class manufacturing expertise in complex optoelectronic systems,” said Daniel Bar, head of business incubation for Microsoft’s silicon and sensor group. “We are excited to welcome LG Innotek to our ecosystem and accelerate time to market for 3D cameras. This is a key step towards providing easy access for computer vision developers to create 3D vision applications.”

Jongyun Eun, head of the optics planning division at LG Innotek, added: “Microsoft’s Azure depth platform programme has selected LG Innotek as a scaling partner due to its leading-edge technologies and production capability. Our collaboration with Microsoft will enable LG Innotek to help ecosystem partners on new designs and expand the application areas of 3D sensing modules beyond smartphones.”

LG Innotek is headquartered in Seoul and its sales subsidiaries are in Germany, USA, China, Japan and Taiwan with production subsidiaries in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and Poland.