IR-LOCK: infrared target tracking for Drones & DIY Robotics

Simple and accurate target tracking hardware for Drones & DIY Robotics. Works in bright sunlight and even complete darkness.

IR Target Tracking for Everybody!

The custom-manufactured IR-LOCK filter enables simple and accurate target tracking for Drones and other DIY robotics projects. Positions of IR LEDs are accurately reported at 50Hz, with a detection range of over 50 ft when using high-power LEDs. The product platform is based on the user-friendly Pixy vision sensor (link), running IR-LOCK’s specialized firmware.

IR-LOCK & Your Project

The Pixy vision sensor is Arduino-compatible for your complex target-tracking projects. If you want to keep things simple, you can control pan/tilt setups by directly connecting to two servos. The developed IR-LOCK firmware reports the location of all IR targets (for microcontroller setups), or tracks the largest IR target (for pan/tilt setups).


How it Works

The custom-manufactured IR-LOCK filter blocks visible light, while allowing particular wavelengths of infrared light to pass through. 940nm IR LEDs are easily detected by the Pixy vision sensor. Since these LEDs are widely used in DIY and consumer products, the development cost for an IR target can be as low as $1 for an LED and coin battery, or long-range markers can be created using high-power LEDs.

Max Tracking Range

The tracking range of the IR-LOCK filtered Pixy can be increased in various ways: (1) multiple LEDs can be clustered together to increase the size of the infrared target, (2) a lens with a narrower field of view will increase detection range (link), and (3) high-power LEDs can be used for long-range, outdoor applications.

Custom IR Target Creation

What IR-LOCK target will you create? Here are some ideas to help get you started. If you want to hit the ground running, get our 360° tracking pod and simply plug it into alipo battery.


Take advantage of the limited ‘Backer Pricing’! Thank you for your support. (Early Bird discounts are virtually gone)

  • If you don’t have a Pixy, check out one of these two kits (below). They include an IR-LOCK filtered Pixy w/ specialized firmware.
  • If you already own a Pixy, check out these modification kits (below).

Technology Capabilities & Limitations

The key benefit of using IR LEDs as targets is that the performance is not dependent on ambient lighting conditions (e.g., shade, dim lighting, bright sunlight, etc.). Actually, IR-LOCK target tracking works great in complete darkness.


IR-LOCK is continuously working on solutions to minimize ‘false detections’, while maintaining sensor range and sensitivity. Unfortunately, sunlight and lightbulbs also emit infrared light. The IR-LOCK filter blocks most of this light, but some of it will inevitably pass through to the Pixy sensor. Thus, ‘false detections’ may occur if the Pixy is (a) pointed directly at a light bulb, or (b) bright sunlight is reflected from a contoured, shiny object (i.e., ‘glare’).

interference from 72W lamp
interference from 72W lamp
reduce chance of 'false detections' by changing brightness setting
reduce chance of ‘false detections’ by changing brightness setting

Tech Specs

Development Team

Thomas Stone is leading the IR-LOCK development effort, along with the invaluable support of colleagues, friends, family, and Pixy (Charmed Labs). Thomas is a research assistant in the Robust Product Creation Lab (RPC) at Georgia Tech. He previouslyworked in consumer product development both for startup companies and large companies such as Coca-colaCraftsman, and Jarden.

Development Timeline

All rewards are scheduled to ship by December 2014 (and the sooner, the better!)

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

Working prototypes have already been developed, and products from multiple suppliers have been successfully tested. We have made great efforts to reduce the chance of experiencing delays in the final product shipment, but there is always the possibility that a critical supplier may have delays or other complications with their manufacturing.…