Affordable Plug-and-play Lidar Camera: Onion Tau

Onion Corporation, the company best known for its computing and IoT connectivity devices is currently crowdfunding their LiDAR depth camera system named the Onion Tau. Onion Tau Camera is a 3D depth-sensing camera. It is capable of producing 3D depth data rather than color frames.

Affordable Plug-and-play Lidar Camera_ Onion Tau

The company claims it to be a USB-based and plug-and-play 3D camera. It requires no additional computation to provide depth data. Plugging it into a computer with a USB cable is more than enough for it to start sending depth data to the computer via USB-C. The Tau holds the promise to become an affordable solution for the level beyond single-point depth sensing or one-dimensional scanning.

Onion Tau LiDAR Camera Prototype
Onion Tau LiDAR Camera Prototype

The LiDAR-style time-of-flight sensor in the camera outputs real-time 160 x 60 resolution depth data. It can also output a greyscale image of the scene. Most importantly, the range for depth sensing is 0.1 m to 7 m at a frame rate of 30fps. For real-time processing, Onion has promised a web-based application for viewing the point cloud along with a Python library and OpenCV-compatible application programming interface — both of which will be open source.

Specifications

  • Depth Technology: LiDAR Time of Flight
  • Depth Stream Output Resolution: 160 x 60
  • Depth Stream Output Frame Rate: 30 fps
  • Minimum Depth Distance: 0.1 meters
  • Maximum Range: 7 meters
  • Depth Field of View (FOV): 70° x 20°
  • Connector: USB-C
  • Tau Camera: 4 mounting holes

Use Cases

  • Primary use case:
  • Use the bundled viewer to see the depth data rendered on your computer
    • Explore 3D depth mapping and it’s possibilities
  • Secondary use case:
  • Use the Python API to build custom made applications
    • Compatible with OpenCV
  • Use cases this enables:
    • Environment mapping (like SLAM)
    • Augmented Reality
  • Computer vision applications:
      • Person counting/presence detection
      • Object detection
      • Robotics
    • Automation

The way LiDAR cameras are getting mainstreamed, it is a very high probability that they will soon take over the “smart” devices universe. Currently, on CrowdSupply, Onion’s Tau Camera is looking forward to achieving that goal.

Source: Affordable Plug-and-play Lidar Camera: Onion Tau

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