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What PNI sensor does differently with other MEMS makers

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PNI Sensor? sensor? MEMS? Google? algorithm?

Just like any other MEMS manufacturer, PNI Sensor Corp. develops its own brand of devices. However, it goes further by ensuring compatibility with Google, plus the ability to create custom sensor-fusion recognition algorithms to differentiate products and still pass Google's strict compatibility test suite (CTS).

PNI's sensor hub, SENtral-A2, may not be better than the ones from Bosch, Invensense and the rest of the MEMS manufacturers. But Sony thinks so, Asus thinks so, and so do its other customers (which we all know and are shipping millions of units), but who will not let PNI mention their names.

SENtral-A2 is being chosen by top-brands of Android wearables, smartphones and tablets. I believe it one-ups Google by meeting and exceeding the mandates for functionality and compatibility, plus PNI adds the ability to differentiate with custom sensor-fusion recognition algorithms.

The SENtral-A is also being considered by Swiss watch makers such as TAG Heuer who have lost as much as 24 per cent market share to smartwatches in some countries.

"All the sensor companies are getting into the sensor fusion market for wearables, even the very large wearable name brands and using a couple hundred thousand per year already," said George Hsu, PNI co-founder and chair of the board. "Their biggest bottleneck is sensor fusion, even those products looking for a market, so we are working hard to make SENtral-A2 the easiest path to products in both time-to-market and in being uniquely differentiated."

SENtral-A2 architecture

To put all that together, PNI has created two software development suites. Its architecture one-ups Google with built-in algorithms for Android and Emerald (the version for wearables) that fulfil mandates and add a whole list of additional sensor-fusion functions that Google has not even thought of yet (well maybe they've thought of them, but they haven't communicated them to anybody in their sententious blogs).

Here's PNI's list of sensor fusion algorithms built-in to SENtral-A2: 9-axis sensor fusion; game rotation vector; geomagnetic rotation vector; glance gesture; gravity; linear acceleration; pick up gesture; significant motion; step counter; step detector; tilt detector; wake gesture; context: walk, jog, run, still; context: bike, vehicle; context: tilting; shake gesture; and turnover gesture.

Extra algorithms include: push-up; sit-up; sleep states: waking, light, deep; heart rate monitoring (HRM); device orientation and motion; how the device is held or carried: ear, handheld-in-front, handheld-at-side, in-pocket; auto-detection of wrist-worn vs. not wrist-worn; environmental; and touch, proximity, light.

PNI also builds algorithms especially for its best customers to differentiate their wearables use its context framework. Now I know this sounds like something Bosch, Invensense or any other sensor hub maker could do, and you are right, but what makes PNI's different is that they allow a new gesture or other sensor-fusion algorithms to be added while making sure that it does not break any of the ones already defined. Yes, you could just check all the other algorithms to see if they still work after creating a new one, but time-to-market is definitely saved by using a framework that guarantees you haven't broken any other ones by adding new ones. Don't you agree?

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