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Bosch miniaturizes MEMS altimeters for consumer tech

Posted: 19 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:altimeters? MEMS? smartphone? tablets? barometric pressure?

With the goal of crafting mass-market versions for consumer devices, Bosch Sensortec has transferred its collection of high-precision Automotive MEMS expertise, the latest of which is the world's smallest barometric pressure.

Bosch's BMP 280 has been tooled for use as an altimeter smart enough to tell smartphone users what floor they are on in the mall. The company's latest MEMS chip comes in at a tiny 2x2.5mmsmm and gives an accurate reading of altitude to within a resolution of 100 mms.

Leopold Beer, Bosch Sensortec's marketing director, stated that the company was able to shrink the package footprint by over 60 per cent while increasing its temperature stability, resolution and noise-to-power ratio.

Besides smartphones and tablets, MEMS altimeters are finding their way into navigators to measure elevation, sports equipment to measure hill-climb steepness and in health-care devices to measure lung capacity.

MEMS chip

Figure: Bosch claims its 2-by-2.5-by-.95mm package (right) has a 65 per cent smaller footprint than the last generation.

Location based services use altimeters to determine what floor a businesses is on in a building, augmented reality uses altimeters to correctly overlay information on objects to within a resolution of four inches.

Bosch also provides the sensor fusion software required to come up with the reference values that compensate for changes in the local barometric pressure, including from GPS signals, weather stations or web services.

The BMP280 consumes only 2.7-microAmps and can run off power supplies as low as 1.2Vs. Both I2C and SPI interfaces are provided.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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