PORTLAND, Ore. — One of the fastest growing micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) and system-on-chip (SoC) companies, Invensense Inc. in San Jose, Calif., just got a big boost by acquiring two companies with complementary motion-software expertise that will fortify their motion processing solutions. Movea SA in Grenoble, France, has a portfolio of over 500 patents and established business relationships with major consumer electronics makers worldwide. Trusted Positioning Inc. (TPI) in Calgary, Canada, is smaller, but has a highly specialized solution for determining the orientation of a device for navigation, wearable, and other high-volume applications. Both companies were acquired by Invensense for just over $80 million and will remain located where they are now.
"Both indoor and outdoor navigation is going to be a big market, and with the addition of Movea and Trusted Positioning's inertial sensor algorithms to our own, we hope to offer the broadest selection of smart MEMS sensor solutions on the market," Ali Foughi, vice president of marketing and business evelopment at InvenSense told EE Times. "For one thing, you're not going to have trouble going into tunnels or parking lots anymore where there is no GPS reception."
Movea has a broad and deep portfolio of motion sensing algorithms which it has been licensing to smart TV makers for pointable remote controls, to wearable makers for applications from wrist bands to tennis rackets as well as to microcontroller makers of smart sensor hubs. All of these markets are ones that Invensense wants to get further into, and acquisitions is one of the fastest way to expand in growing markets.
Trusted Positioning Inc. also writes software for inertial motion sensing, but in their case they specialize in accurately determining the orientation and location of inertial sensors, for instance is your phone in your back pocket, vest pocket, lying on your desk or what. Their target customers include makers of smartphones, tablets, wearables, in-vehicle navigation devices, personnel tracking devices, and machine guidance and control systems.
"Both these company's will help Invensense provide solutions based on intelligent sensors -- wrapping motion algorithms around the sensors, which is exactly the businesses Invensense is in -- make the sensors smarter, with auto-calibration and on-chip data fusion." Foughi told EE Times. "The message here is we are expanding our embedded software algorithm technology portfolio and planning to do a lot more. Both Movea and TPI are also experts in low-power navigation solutions."
Invensense intends to use Movea and TPI technology to enhance its "AlwaysOn" low-power solutions for mobile, wearable, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. According to Jeremie Bouchard, director at IHS Technology in Douglas County, Colo., all the MEMS inertial sensor makers are seeking similar acquisitions with sensor fusion software companies in order to better serve these emerging markets, including Hillcrest Laboratories, Inc. in Rockville, Md., and Sensor Platforms Inc. Bouchard predicted this trend when analyzing why Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc. had just acquired motion software company Xsens Technologies B.V. in Enschede, Netherlands earlier this year. His MEMS April Market Brief predicted "there exist a handful of similar software algorithm suppliers including Movea, Hillcrest, and SensorPlatforms. This is a critical competence and IHS has anticipated that some of these companies would soon be acquired." His reasoning was that most MEMS sensor makers are hawking similar products -- accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and altimeters -- so they need superior software to differentiate themselves. Smart software is also desperately needed to cut the power consumption of always-on, wearable, and IoT applications, according to IHS.
InvenSense will pay approximately $81 million to acquire the outstanding shares of capital stock and other equity rights of Movea and Trusted Positioning Inc. Payment will be in cash except for $6 million of InvenSense common stock plus a portion of unvested employee stock options exercisable for shares of InvenSense's common stock.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times