Blickfeld Unveils First Smart LiDAR Sensor with Built-in Software Stack

November 09, 2022 by Aaron Carman

Blickfeld today announced its Qb2 smart LiDAR sensor, purpose-built for rapid deployment thanks to its onboard processing and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Making its entry as the first smart LiDAR sensor with built-in software, Blickfeld has announced the launch of the Qb2 LiDAR sensor. The Qb2 packages high-performance detection and ranging with onboard software to improve performance and setup time without requiring complex custom software development. 

In addition, the device includes built-in Wi-Fi support, ensuring that the Qb2 can be deployed anywhere without messy cable routing. The data produced by the Qb2 may be accessed through a simple web interface, making it an attractive 3D monitoring solution for various applications.


Three Qb2 devices

Three Qb2 devices highlighting the interconnectivity supported by the onboard Wi-Fi system, making the LiDAR sensors sufficient for smart applications. Image used courtesy of Blickfeld


In this article, we'll examine the technology behind the Qb2 alongside the benefits and drawbacks of bringing data processing onboard the device. 


How the Qb2 Works

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) uses time of flight to determine the range of a target. LiDAR first uses an extremely fast pulse at a well-defined wavelength (905 nm in the case of the Qb2) and measures the reflection from that pulse. 

If no target is present, then no reflection is recorded. If a target is present in the field of view of a LiDAR sensor, however, the time difference between the received and transmitted signal allows the sensor to estimate a range. By considering the contributions from multiple pulses at varying angles, a 3D map may be drawn to visualize the space in front of the sensor.


The functional principle of LiDAR

The functional principle of LiDAR, which allows the Qb2 to accurately determine ranges within the sensor’s field of view. Image used courtesy of Blickfeld


To accomplish the beam steering required to create a multi-dimensional map, the Qb2 uses a custom micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMs) mirror to improve the tradeoff between resolution, range, and field of view. Finally, once the data is digitized, the onboard software coupled with Blickfeld’s Percept API helps designers implement the Qb2 quickly.


Onboard Processing for Distributed Computing

The Qb2's onboard data processing is one of the highlights of the new sensor for several reasons. Namely, the onboard processing and smart connectivity make the Qb2 a turnkey solution, greatly reducing the time to deployment. In addition, the built-in software stack and Blickfeld's Percept API allow a great deal of abstraction from the raw data to the outputs. 


An example point-cloud generated by the Qb2 and Percept API

An example point cloud generated by the Qb2 and Percept API. Image used courtesy of Blickfeld


This abstraction helps to ensure that the output data is both intuitive and actionable, further reducing the time to deployment. If the Qb2 sensor is to be implemented in a wide-scale fashion, the onboard processing may help to distribute the computational load, making the Qb2 a scalable solution.


Building a Smart LiDAR Ecosystem

While LiDAR has many applications ranging from automotive to exploratory equipment, Blickfeld’s Qb2 was designed with some key examples in mind. In an industrial sense, the Qb2 may be used for volume monitoring in mining, agriculture, or construction, where the availability of materials is critical. 

In another case, the Qb2 may be used for anonymous occupancy tracking or smart infrastructure for public areas where the number of people or traffic flow is critical.


Smart, Scalable Sensors

Thanks partly to its turnkey nature, the Qb2 can be implemented wherever 3D imaging is required. The shift to onboard processing makes the once painstaking act of deploying an integrated LiDAR system simpler, and the built-in Wi-Fi support ensures that the sensors will work cohesively in smart applications. Blickfeld's new smart 3D LiDAR combined with technologies such as radar imaging can provide designers with more data to develop better smart buildings, smart homes, and smart cities.