Fusing the output of multiple MEMS sensors, such as is done by the new Apple iPhone 4, wastes application processor cycles managing their coordination, but Freescale's new "smart MEMS" has its own microcontroller, resulting in streamlined designs for smaller, faster devices. Look for accelerometers to be used together with an MEMS gyroscope to achieve ultra-precise motion tracking for 3-D mice and MotionPlus fuctionality, and barometric pressure sensors to be added for altitude along with a magnetometer, with Freescale's Xtrinsic smart sensor performing the fusion algorithms to perform indoor navigation tasks by Christmas. R.C.J.
Freescale Semiconductor Inc.'s new Xtrinsic family of smart MEMS sensors combine a 32-bit ColdFire microcontroller with on-chip algorithms for all the common operations like tap, touch, tilt and orientation, thereby streamlining designs and offloading the application processor...The system-in-package combines a ColdFire 32-bit microcontroller die alongside a three-axis MEMS accelerometer die. The same 3-by-3 millimeter package also contains on-chip power management and dual I2C/SPI connectivity buses—one for communicating with the host application processor, and the other for communicating with up to 12 other sensors needed in a design, such as MEMS gyroscopes, pressure sensors, magentometors, or touch sensors. Besides off-loading the application processor in a design from reading out sensor data, the on-chip firmware that is supplied with every Xtrinsic sensor provides many of the common algorithms that would otherwise have to be executed by the application processor, as well as the sensor fusion operations needed to use multiple sensors. On-chip flash can also accommodate custom sensor fusion operations, such as to emulate Wii-like gaming controllers with MotionPlus.
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