PORTLAND, Ore. -- ST Microelectronics has introduced what it is calling the world's smallest digital e-compass -- a three-axis magnetometer combined with a three-axis accelerometer on a 2x2mm MEMS chip.
By saving board space on next-generation mobile devices, this device should enable new ultra-miniature, location-aware applications. Micro-electromechanical systems already provide much of the smarts to smartphones, and ST is already a major supplier for devices from Apple's iPhone to Samsung's Galaxy. However, a new generation of smartphones and other personal devices will have even less board space.
ST said in a press release that its new LSM303C is 20 percent smaller than previous models, saving just under a square millimeter of board space. That does not seem like much, but it will be welcome for devices such as smartwatches or monitoring bracelets, where space is especially precious.
STMicroelectronics says its 2x2mm LSM303C is the world's smallest MEMS compass. It combines a three-axis magnetometer with a three-axis accelerometer for ultra-precise 16-bit, six-axis resolution.
The new e-compass will also reduce electromagnetic interference by facilitating more liberal board layouts, ST said. That should improve the performance of indoor navigation and other location-based applications by reducing radio frequency interference from onboard RF transceivers.
The 16-bit LSM303C measures magnetic field strengths of plus or minus 1,600 microTesla (16 Gauss). A programmable accelerometer can be set for ranges of plus-or-minus two, four, or eight Gs. The device includes on-chip power management, thermal compensation, and programmable interrupts for free-fall and magnetic-field detection.