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Intel, Qualcomm push for MEMS integration standard

Posted: 07 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? accelerometers? gyroscopes? smartphone? tablets?

Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) chips are driving the adoption of consumer devices by offering gee-whiz capabilitiesfrom image stabilisation to indoor navigationthat are just not possible with conventional electronics. Unfortunately, every sensor maker has a different interface, which complicates designers' efforts to integrate MEMS devices from different manufacturers.

With this in mind, Intel, Qualcomm and the MEMS Industry Group (MIG), announced its free download entitled "Standardised Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions" on the same day that MEMS vendor InvenSense announced new accelerometers and gyroscopes that set records in small size and low power. (See MPU-6521 MEMS SoC unveiled.)

"MEMS are ubiquitous in mobile devices," said Steve Whalley, director of sensors at Intel. "Intel recognises the important role of a specification that breaks down barriers in evaluating MEMS sensors."

Intel does not yet integrate MEMS sensors directly onto its mobile systems-on-chip (SoCs) but does need to provide input/output (I/O) interfaces that make it convenient for designers using its parts to add-on MEMS sensors from other vendorsespecially now that Microsoft's Surface requires vendors to add accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers to all Windows 8 tablets. Qualcomm, on the other hand, has both processors and MEMS chips, both of which have a vested interest in MEMS standardisation.

"Qualcomm Technologies recognises the importance of standardising sensor parameters for the mobile device ecosystem," said Len Sheynblat, vice president of technology, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We will continue to take an active role in developing and supporting the standards that will help the industry, our suppliers and customers."

Standardised Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions

Conversion times versus light intensity standardised to low, nominal and high. Source: MIG.

Other contributors to the Standardised Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions include Analog Devices, Bosch Sensortec, Freescale Semiconductor, Hillcrest Labs, InvenSense, Kionix, Maxim Integrated, Movea, NIST, PNI Sensor Corporation, STMicroelectronics and Xsens Technologies.

Besides standardising interfaces, the Standardised Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions also simplifies comparisons among MEMS chips from different vendors, which today can be difficult and error-prone, according to co-authors with MIG, Ken Foust of Intel and Carlos Puig of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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