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MEMS sensors integrate 32bit MCU, accelerometer

Posted: 01 Jul 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? sensor? accelerometer? microcontroller? MCU?

From Freescale Semiconductor Inc. comes the Xtrinsic family of smart MEMS sensors that combine a 32bit ColdFire microcontroller with on-chip algorithms for all the common operations like tap, touch, tilt and orientation, thereby streamlining designs and offloading the application processor.

"We are supplying a smart system-in-package that gives you both an inertial sensor along with the intelligent algorithms designers need to craft an application," said Bryce Osoinach, touch sensor systems and applications engineer at Freescale.

The system-in-package (SiP) combines a ColdFire 32bit MCU die alongside a three-axis MEMS accelerometer die. The same 3mm x 3mm package also contains on-chip power management and dual I?C/SPI connectivity busesone for communicating with the host application processor, and the other for communicating with up to 12 other sensors needed in a design, such as MEMS gyroscopes, pressure sensors, magentometors, or touch sensors.

Besides off-loading the application processor in a design from reading out sensor data, the on-chip firmware that is supplied with every Xtrinsic sensor provides many of the common algorithms that would otherwise have to be executed by the application processor, as well as the sensor fusion operations needed to use multiple sensors. On-chip flash can also accommodate custom sensor fusion operations, such as to emulate Wii-like gaming controllers with MotionPlus. For instance, the on-chip accelerometer can be used together with an external MEMS gyroscope to achieve ultra-precise motion tracking for 3D mice and MotionPlus functionality. A barometric pressure sensor can also be added for altitude along with a magnetometer, and sensor fusion algorithms can perform indoor navigation tasks.

Besides claiming the highest resolution output in the industry14bitsevery member of Freescale's new Xtrinsic family of smart SiP sensors includes on-chip capacitive touch sensing and suite of software to manage most functions like buttons, sliders and rotary dials.

On-chip power management includes configurable sample rate, auto-wake monitors and auto-sleep modes to powers down sensor when they are not in use. A smart first-in-first out allows samples from sensors to accumulate without having to wake the processor for each new reading.

An Xtrinsic Touch Sensing Software Suite is available now as well as a Touch Sensing Software evaluation board from Freescale.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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