SAN FRANCISCO-- Freescale Semiconductor is readying itself for the official launch of Windows 8 with a 12-axis sensor development reference platform it is dubbing a “black-box” of sensor integration.
Freescale said the platform, which includes an Xtrinsic MMA8451Q 3-axis accelerometer, Xtrinsic MAG3110 3-axis magnetometer, Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 precision altimeter, pressure and temperature sensor and an analog ambient light sensor, was engineered to “dramatically reduce system complexity.”
Meant to increase contextual awareness in computers and tablets, the reference platform also allows for a selection of compatible gyroscopes and boasts Freescale’s ColdFire+ MCF51JU128VHS microcontroller to differentiate it from its competition.
The ColdFire+ controller, explained Freescale’s consumer sensor product line manager, Bryce Osoinach, acts as a sensor hub to centralize data for more holistic, accurate results that don’t take too much of a chunk out of either the device power or performance.
Additionally, the platform is pretty much plug-and-play, able to connect via USB and without the need for any special drivers from Freescale.
The PCB itself is small, measuring some 4cm in length and just 1cm wide, built specifically with Windows 8 integration in mind.
Osoinach described the simplicity of the platform’s integration as “unparalleled” and said that after six months of joint work by Freescale and Microsoft, the little black box was ready for full production and release as soon as Windows 8 goes public and live.
“Laptops and tablets are really getting in on the sensor thing now,” said Osoinach, pointing to fun applications like star-gazing app “skymap” which gets its bearings from sensors when held up to the sky, augmenting reality and mapping the cosmos.
Previously, Osoinach explained, incorporating sensors into a device had required a lot of expertise on the design side, but with a reference platform that just needs to be plugged in, a lot of those challenges could now be avoided.
With IHS estimating that around 1.2 billion handsets, tablets and laptops will be equipped with the sensors found bundled in Freescale’s black-box, the market is certainly not a small one.
The platform will be on display this week at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, with Freescale noting that general availability is planned for the third quarter.