Monday, August 16, 2010

#HP #MEMS Platform Promises Ultrasensitive #Sensors, on the Cheap

Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) accelerometers were originally designed for automobile impacts to trigger air bags, but HP claims that's the wrong approach for sensing seismic events like earthquakes. Look for HP to produce all-in-one sensors with ultra-sensitivity within the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

HP's prototype of a sensor network node, using its own MEMS accelerometer, that will be deployed as part of HP Labs' Central Nervous System for Earth (CeNSE).

Here is what EETimes says about HP's new ultra-sensitive MEMS sensors: Hewlett-Packard has developed a sensor platform that taps its experience as the largest supplier of the tiny mechanical structures in inkjet printheads. HP claims its MEMS process technology enables sensors a thousand times more sensitive than the models in use today, which were designed to trigger airbags during the violent motion of an automobile accident. HP is prototyping a multisensor module, using its accelerometer with other sensors, that it hopes to market for all types of wireless sensor networks. HP argues that even the most complex sensor can be cost-reduced by mass producing it on a scale rivaling that for the disposable electromechanical structures in inkjet printheads. HP’s current deal with Shell Oil to disperse ultrasensitive seismic sensors could drive such volume manufacturing, but consumer markets ultimately would be the best avenue to global domination.

Cross-section of HP's MEMS accelerometer, which uses a three-wafer chip stack with a large proof mass in the middle to achieve its ultrasensitivity.
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