Electronics & Computers

ST Announces Advanced MEMS Sensing System

May 10, 2011

The unit consists of a set of three high-performance MEMS sensors that provide accurate data on linear, angular, and magnetic motion, in addition to altitude readings, enabling enhanced navigation and smart interfaces for portable consumer devices.

GENEVA /PRNewswire/ -- STMicroelectronics (ST), a global semiconductor leader, serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, and a leading supplier of MEMS for consumer and portable applications, announced a complete hardware solution for advanced sensing applications, with 10 degrees of freedom (DoF). A set of three thin, high-performance MEMS sensors provides accurate and comprehensive information on linear, angular, and magnetic motion, together with altitude readings, enabling enhanced navigation and smarter user interfaces in mobile phones and other portable consumer devices.

An emerging new class of mobile consumer applications, such as location-based services and pedestrian dead reckoning for indoor and multi-floor navigation, require rather complex sensing capabilities. By using just three ST MEMS sensors—a geo-magnetic module, a gyroscope, and a pressure sensor—a consumer device can have a complete indication of its linear acceleration, angular velocity, earth gravity, heading, and altitude. With this information, mobile users will be able to identify their direction and precise location in all three dimensions everywhere they go, including in places with no or low GPS signal, such as inside buildings in urban canyons or in mountainous and forested terrain.

Facilitating the fusion of complex motion-sensor data in smart consumer devices, ST has also recently introduced the "industry's first advanced filtering and predictive software engine," which integrates the outputs from 3-axis accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetic sensors. Fusing these sensors' data through sophisticated algorithms, the iNEMO engine delivers dramatically more accurate and reliable sensor performance—the kind of performance now in demand by makers of next-generation smart consumer devices for enhanced motion-based applications.

"Multi-sensor capabilities enhance the mobile user experience with previously unseen realism and accuracy in next-generation motion- and location-based applications," said Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager of ST's MEMS, Sensors and High Performance Analog Division. "With its formidable arsenal of world-class MEMS components, software, design, and manufacturing expertise, ST is leading the way to fusing multiple sensors in mobile phones, navigation systems, and other consumer devices."

Designed and produced using the same micromachining technology process that the company has already successfully applied to more than 1.2 billion sensors sold in the market, ST's MEMS chips boast ultra-small size and minimized current consumption, coupled with superior accuracy and reliability. The three-chip 10-DoF sensor solution comprises the following components:

  • The LSM303DLHC geo-magnetic module integrates high-resolution, three-axis sensing of linear and magnetic motion in a 3 by 5 by 1 mm package, with operating current consumption as low as 110 µA. The device delivers extremely accurate output across full-scale extended ranges up to 16 g (linear acceleration) and 8 Gauss (magnetic field), with excellent stability over time and temperature. In addition to that, it comes with a host of advanced features, including 4D/6D orientation detection and two programmable interrupt signals that enable immediate notification of motion detection, free fall, and other conditions.
  • Housed inside an ultra-small 4 by 4 by 1 mm package, the L3G4200D 3-axis digital gyroscope provides state-of-the-art performance in terms of output accuracy and stability over temperature and time. The device couples a 16-bit data output with a wide set of user-programmable full-scale ranges from 250 dps up to 2000 dps. An embedded first-in first-out memory block removes the need for continuous communication between the sensor and the host processor, dramatically decreasing the overall power consumption.
  • ST's soon-to-be-announced silicon pressure sensor uses an innovative technology to provide extremely high-resolution measurements of pressure—and therefore also of altitude—in an ultra-compact and thin 3 by 3 by 1 mm package. The device has an operating pressure range of 260–1260 millibars, corresponding to the atmospheric pressures between –700 and 10,000 m relative to sea level, and can detect height variations as small as 0.3 m.

ST's 10-DoF sensor solution is now available for evaluation, with mass production scheduled for the end of Q3 2011. Unit pricing for the three-chip set is $5.90 for volumes in the range of 100,000 pieces.

To date, ST's MEMS sensors have enabled motion-activated user interfaces in a number of popular consumer devices, including game consoles, smart phones, and remotes. Also, computer manufacturers widely use the company's acceleration sensors for free-fall protection in laptop hard-disk drives. ST shipped its 1 billionth MEMS sensor in November 2010, and its dedicated 8 in. MEMS fabrication line, which was among the first in the world, currently produces more than 2 million devices a day. For further information on ST's MEMS solutions, visit the company's Web site.

About ST
STMicroelectronics is a global leader, serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, with innovative semiconductor solutions. ST aims to be the undisputed leader in multimedia convergence and power applications, leveraging its vast array of technologies, design expertise, and combination of intellectual property portfolio, strategic partnerships, and manufacturing strength. In 2010, the company's net revenues were $10.35 billion.

iNEMO is a trademark of ST. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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