SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—STMicroelectronics NV and PNI Sensor Corp. have collaborated on a new ultra-fine resolution e-compass for Nintendo's new Wii-U GamePad controller.
By combining PNI's high-resolution geomagnetic sensor technology with a high-performance mixed-signal application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) from ST, the Wii U GamePad now lays claim to being the world's most accurate gaming controller.
"Our geomagnetic sensors have long been a mainstay for in-vehicle navigation systems with their tight accuracy requirements," said PNI President and CEO Becky Oh at the recent MEMS Executive Congress here. "Our geomagnetic technology and sensor fusion algorithms capture complex motions with minimal latency, gyro drift or magnetic interference."
PNI (Santa Rosa, Calif.) claims its geomagnetic sensors enable pointing and motion tracking with up to 15 times better resolution and 16 times less noise than popular consumer-grade Hall-effect magnetic sensors, such as those from AKM Semiconductors. ST (Geneva) already markets an alternative to Hall-effect magnetometers in its three-axis magnetometer combined with a three-axis accelerometer in a single package, but the high-resolution requirements of Nintendo prompted it to foster a collaboration between ST and PNI, resulting in the Wii U GamePad's marriage of motion sensing technologies from both companies, which PNI calls its RM3000.
"Our RM3000 includes three separate magnetic sensors for each axis, plus an ASIC from ST," said Oh. "We also have a second source for the ASIC, but ST is supplying the ASIC for Nintendo's GamePad."
The Wii U GamePad is itself revolutionary in that it includes a touchscreen right on the handheld controller, allowing alternative asymmetric views of a game as well as both traditional input methods using buttons, joysticks and D-pad as well as touch- and motion-enabled controls for fine-scale aiming and selections.
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