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By frederir
Our friends at ST released a very nice proximity sensor : ... partnumber

From the official description :
The VL6180X is the latest product based on ST’s patented FlightSenseTMtechnology. This is a ground-breaking technology allowing absolute distance to be measured independent of target reflectance. Instead of estimating the distance by measuring the amount of light reflected back from the object (which is significantly influenced by color and surface), the VL6180X precisely measures the time the light takes to travel to the nearest object and reflect back to the sensor (Time-of-Flight).

Yes a TOF distance sensor for $3 :-) It's available at the usual places :!?q=vl61 ... 0&limit=10

All is needed is a breakout board to replace these pesky infrared dectectors.