Accelerometers are micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) that do everything with motion--from triggering the airbag in your car to changing from portrait to landscape orientation on you iPhone. Look for ultra-low power MEMS chips to add new user-interface features to every mobile device you use--like shake to answer cell phones--over the next three years. R.C.J.
STMicroelectronics NV claims its new three-axis accelerometer lowers the power requirements and shrinks the size of micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS) motion detection. The new MEMS chip is aimed at extending battery life in consumer applications and includes special circuitry for integration with gyroscopes to create a complete inertial measurement unit (IMU) for mobile handsets, remote controls, gaming controllers and similar user-interface applications. Built-in algorithms for single- and double-tap recognition—anywhere on a consumer device—can eliminate the need for selection keys on mobile devices. A programmable first-in-first-out (FIFO) buffer memory block allows the accelerometer to perform smart power management, along with a sleep-to-wake-up mode that keeps the read chain active thereby automatically increasing the output data rate when it wakes up in response to an event. STMicro claims the device can save up to 90 percent over the power required for previous accelerometers, quoting operating currents as low as two microamps.
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