CSEM’s “spaceCoder” precision measurement technology wins Inventor Award 2024
7 February 2024
In a pioneering development in precision metrology, CSEM researchers have developed “spaceCoder”, a novel sensing technology that uses the interplay of light and shadow to set new standards in the field.
The “spaceCoder” technology represents a significant leap forward in metrology, enabling the precise detection and measurement of objects at the nanometric level—a scale so minute it reaches one thousandth of a thousandth of a millimeter. Utilizing a custom-made shadow mask and specialized algorithms, this optical sensor system can accurately determine the position of a light source in space by analyzing the shadows cast by illuminated objects.
Developed by Eric Grenet, Edoardo Franzi and former CSEM colleagues David Hasler and Peter Masa, the “spaceCoder” technology has been refined over the years to become a practical tool for industries requiring high precision measurements. Its compact size, akin to a sugar cube, combined with high precision, reliability, and cost-effectiveness, opens up vast potential applications across various sectors, including precision machinery and medical technologies.
One notable application highlighted by Andrea Dunbar, Business Developer for Data and AI at CSEM, is in pre-surgical measurements, such as accurately sizing a patient’s knee before fitting an artificial joint. Additionally, the technology holds promise for enhancing the precision of minimally invasive surgeries by tracking the 3D position of robot-controlled instruments in real-time, and could even revolutionize railway maintenance by enabling perfect track alignment checks.
A vast economic potential
The CSEM Inventor Award is an annual recognition program for researchers at CSEM, celebrating significant contributions to innovative developments, showcasing the critical role of collaboration between research, development, and industry, and inspiring the next generation of innovators.
The economic potential of “spaceCoder” technology is vast, with projections reaching several billion Swiss Francs, depending on its application across different sectors. The Inventor Award 2024 presented to Grenet and Franzi acknowledges not only their innovative work but also the importance of continuous improvement and practical application of ideas.