PORTLAND, Ore. – The volume of STMicroelectronics’ latest 6-axis MEMS chip has been halved and the device adds programmable motion sensing engines. ST’s iNEMO inertial module, the LSM330, combines a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope and two programmable state machines for gesture recognition.
ST supplies the inertial sensor for Apple's iPhone and iPad, both of which use separate accelerometer and gyroscope chips. Samsung was recently found to have switched to ST's LSM330DLC 6-axis combo chip for its Galaxy S III GT smartphone. The LSM330, successor to the LSM330DLC, measures just 3 x 3.5 mm.
The combo chip also includes two new state machines that execute motion processing algorithms. Previously, motion detection and gesture recognition were handled off-chip by a separate microcontroller, or by the application processor itself. ST said its new chip can perform many of those functions, thus cutting overall system power usage as well as saving board space while lowering a device's bill of materials.
The state machines can be programmed by OEMs to detect free fall, to wake up devices when motion is detected, for orientation detection, pulse counting, step recognition and other motions. The device includes a first-in, first-out memory block to reduce power consumption by storing readings between polling sessions and operate with supply voltages between 2.4 and 3.6 volts. It can handle acceleration detection up to 16 Gs as well as pitch, roll and yaw rotations at up to 2,000 degrees per second.
The MEMS chip also supports location-based services on smartphones and tablets, such as matching indoor/outdoor locations to maps for navigation and augmented reality. ST is also targeting the LSM330 at sports, fitness and health care applications.
Invensense and Bosch have both recently announced 6-axis combo accelerometer/gyroscope chips with their own advantages, but ST still has the lion's share of the market by virtue of there track record and ability to deliver mass production quantities. By halving the size and adding two state-machines for gesture recognition, ST should be able to continue landing the big accounts like Apple.
@R_Colin_Johnson: This product certainly helps ST keep its lead over others like Bosch and InvenSense. They seem to have made progress in the packaging technology as well, as evidenced by the package size.
I would like to see some common high-level 'commands' that can be standardized in multi-axis devices. The control software can then quickly easily identify the event (flip, drop, etc) without using processing power.
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