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Pressure sensor controls navigation tech

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pressure sensor? altitude detection? navigation? location-based services?

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has released the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor for altitude detection. The pressure sensor is specifically designed to help users control advanced navigation capabilities and emerging location-based services such as GPS assist and e911.

The MPL3115A2 is based on based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. It 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, reducing power 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?A and a low-power mode of 8.5?A for current consumption savings depending on conditions of the processor and output data rates chosen.

The MPL3115A2 is designed to address the increasing popularity of mobile location-based services used in sophisticated handsets by delivering 30cm 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.

Other potential applications of the MPL3115A2 include 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.

Freescale said its 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 30cm 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 compenzation, with variable sampling rates up to 128Hz.

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.

Sample quantities of the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor are available now. Production quantities are planned for 3Q11 starting at a suggested resale price of $1.50 in 10,000-piece quantities.

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