SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Sensing "tilt" in old style pinball machines used a mechanical ball-in-tube sensor, but the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) version should harness a tri-axis accelerometer, according to Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
At the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 here Wednesday (Nov. 7), Freescale rolled out a tilt sensor— Xtrinsic MMA8491Q—that the company says could be used for a modern version of tilt-detection in pinball. But the target application for the device is preventing tampering in smart meters.
"With our new tilt sensor, Freescale is addressing the need to prevent smart-meter tampering with a simple to use, cost effective and extremely low-power three-axis accelerometer with a dedicated embedded state-machine," said Jennette Wilson, product line manager for sensors at Freescale.
Freescale's three-axis accelerometer optimized for sensing tilt can be used to prevent tampering with stationary smart meters.
Freescale's addition of a state machine for detecting tilts enables any smart meter to sense when someone is tampering with it and send an alarm to the utility company. The specialized tilt-detecting MEMS sensor with programmable thresholds can also be used for other applications—from sensing unbalanced washing machine loads to turning off a hand-iron that has fallen over to eHealth monitors that notify caregivers when a patient has fallen down.
For battery-powered applications, the MMA8491Q consumes just 400 nanoAmps per hertz (10 nanoAmps in standby). It also sports 65-millimeter pitch leads for easy visual inspection, despite the fact that it is housed in a tiny 3-by-3-by-1-millimeter package.
Freescale provides a sensor-toolbox kit for easy prototyping, reference designs optimized for any spot on the globe, and applications notes that flesh-out the most common usage models worldwide. The MMA8491Q is also a part of Freescale's product longevity program that guarantees that it will supply the part for 10 years.