Electronics & Computers

Freescale Introduces High-Accuracy Xtrinsic Pressure Sensor

June 23, 2011

The pressure sensor enables a new wave of advanced location-based applications for tablets and smart mobile, medical and industrial devices.

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Freescale Semiconductor [NYSE: FSL] introduces a new high-precision pressure sensor for altitude detection designed to help users further leverage advanced navigation capabilities and emerging location-based services such as GPS assist and e911. The Freescale Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor, based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, complements the accelerometers and magnetometers in the Xtrinsic portfolio to meet the growing demand for these types of components in smart mobile devices.

The Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 smart digital pressure sensor processes pressure and temperature data locally, requiring fewer computations assigned to the applications processor and thereby reducing power significantly compared to systems using basic sensors directly managed by the host processor. The pressure sensor features optimal efficiency with a FIFO (first-in/first-out) memory buffer, a standby mode of 2 µA and a low-power mode of 8.5 µA for current consumption savings depending on conditions of the processor and output data rates chosen.

According to research firm IHS iSuppli Corp, the demand for MEMS technology in consumer electronics and mobile handsets will grow by 25.6 percent in 2011.

"In conjunction with accelerometers, compasses and gyroscopes, pressure sensors will be a key component for indoor navigation solutions in combination with other location technologies such as WiFi triangulation," said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. "Pressure sensors have already appeared in tablets in 2011, and IHS iSuppli expects sensor-supported navigation to take off in smart phones and handsets in 2012 and 2013."

The Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor is designed to address the increasing popularity of mobile location-based services used in sophisticated handsets by delivering 30 cm resolution, which enables the device to identify elevation at a granular level. For example, a phone could detect the exact floor a user is on within a high-rise building or a shopping mall, allowing location-based services to more accurately reflect immediate surroundings.

Beyond the smart mobile device market, the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor has many other potential applications, including tracking assets in business and industrial settings, providing precise locations in emergency search and rescue missions, forecasting climate changes in desktop weather stations and monitoring home cooling and heating systems. In addition, the sensor is ideal for medical applications, including respiratory equipment and health monitoring and detection systems that can help identify the location of patients within their homes or other environments.

"For more than 30 years, Freescale has been a leader in delivering sensing technologies that provide advanced performance and meet stringent energy efficiency requirements," said Tom Deitrich, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale's RF, Analog and Sensor Group. "With the MPL3115A2, we are integrating smart features and technologies to offer ease-of-use for our customers, while also paving the way for future advancements in the mobile device space."

About the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 Pressure Sensor
Freescale's Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor offers advanced accuracy and sampling rates combined with low power consumption to increase performance. The device provides barometric and altimetry pressure detection up to 30 cm of resolution and delivers a digital output in either meters or pascals, based on user preference. The MPL3115A2 sensor also includes embedded functions and user-programmable options, such as temperature compensation, with variable sampling rates up to 128 Hz.

Smart features include autonomous data acquisition with two interruptions on thresholds detection. To enhance efficiency, the device regulates auto-wake and sleep modes (to avoid unnecessary use of power) and requires zero data processing for mobile devices and medical and security applications.

Freescale has a history of providing long-term production support for its products. The MPL3115A2 device is part of the Freescale Product Longevity program, with a minimum of 15 years of expected supply.

Availability, Price, and Development Support
Sample quantities of the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor are available now from Freescale. Production quantities are planned for Q3 2011 from Freescale and its distribution partners starting at a suggested resale price of $1.50 (USD) in 10,000-piece quantities.

The Freescale Sensor Toolbox offers hardware, software and accessories in a common platform for acceleration, magnetic, pressure and touch sensors. The KITSTBMPL3115A2 development board is expected to be available in Q3 2011 for a suggested resale price of $75 (USD). In addition, the DEMOSTBMPL3115A2 includes the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor development board and a USB board for a suggested resale price of $99 (USD).

Freescale: a Leader in Sensing Solutions
Expanding on its more than 30-year heritage of sensor innovation, Freescale's Xtrinsic sensing solutions are designed with the right combination of high-performance sensing capability, processing capacity and customizable software to help deliver smart, differentiated sensing applications. With Xtrinsic sensing solutions, our vision is to offer a diverse and differentiated product portfolio to meet the expanding needs of the automotive, consumer and industrial segments. Xtrinsic solutions offer ideal blends of functionality and intelligence designed to help our customers differentiate and win in highly competitive markets. Visit Freescale's Embedded Beat blog to learn more from sensor experts Michael Stanley and Stephan Gervais-Ducouret.

About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing and sales operations around the world.

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