Monday, March 30, 2009

"MEMS: Algorithm could replace touch screens with MEMS control"

A new type of MEMS-based user interface enables 12 different device control functions while also eliminating expensive touch screens. Instead, a tri-axis accelerometer developed by Kionix Inc. (Ithica, N.Y.) uses embedded algorithms to detect single- or double-taps on the six faces of a consumer electronic device. For instance, a single front tap could silence a ringing phone or a double tap could send it to voice mail, eliminating the need for an expensive touch screen. For touch screen phones and music players, the tap-detection algorithms embedded in the Kionix accelerometer could also eliminated the need for a menu bar, instead allowing up to 12 menu items to be encoded as direction or double taps.

BOTTOM LINE: Original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) building consumer electronics can now take advantage of user actions based on tapping anywhere on the devices, without the need to add buttons. Also, devices with touch screens can eliminate the real-estate required for menus by allowing user-taps to cause the menu to appear and disappear. These capabilities should spur OEMs to choose Kionix accelerometers for their devices, since only Kionix has this directional-tap capability. It will also spawn similar capabilities from the other accelerometer makers like STMicro, Analog Devices, within the next year or two.