SAN FRANCSICO -- Attend any industry event and you can sense a fast growing interest in accelerometers, pressure sensors, and spectrometers. As sensors proliferate in mobile devices and the Internet of Things, cohesive protocols are needed for easy transfer of information and access.
To forward this concept of sensor fusion, the MEMS Industry Group (MIG) and partners established a group dedicated to providing open-source algorithms for sensors, the Accelerated Innovation Community (AIC). MIG Executive Director Karen Lightman sat down with EE Times at International CES in Las Vegas to discuss the sensor-rich future and how fusion will meet function.
Both MEMS and non-MEMS sensors will be in wearables and Internet of Things devices, Lightman told EE Times. Powering these sensors is a huge issue, so developing intelligent sensor fusion to make each chip “wait its turn” will be of the utmost importance.
MIG Executive Director Karen Lightman.
”Sensor fusion gives more opportunity for non-MEMS sensors to interface with MEMS sensors. It’s all about tradeoffs and figuring out…how do you use software to manage and create smart data points and reduce power,” Lightman said.
The future is multi-chip integration guided by sensor fusion, Lightman added. Different markets and devices each pose unique requirements that make it difficult for the smaller players to get a foot in this emerging market, although they may dominate the wearables segment, she said.
Smartphones, for example, try to pack in the maximum amount of functionality while reducing power consumption. Wearables likely have fewer functional needs but also want low power. At the same time there are more opportunities for bodily energy harvesting by virtue of their use.
”Sensor fusion would need to take into account that [power] requirement, which is actually much more complicated for wearables than smartphones. In the wearable market, there is a lot more opportunity for smaller and medium companies,” she said.
Likewise, many existing algorithms for sensor fusion are geared toward mobile phones rather than wearables. Lightman said MIG and AIC are trying to create a “more level playing field” for wearable startups and small-to-medium sized companies.