While motion sensing has been around for decades, making it ubiquitous across devices and applications has only just begun. We are entering a new era of motion sensing – an era enabled by advances in MEMS technologies that allow a motion sensor on anything that moves. From wearable fitness gadgets and smart watches to mobile devices and gaming consoles, motion sensing is captured by three main elements: Accelerometers, Magnetic Sensors and Gyroscopes. Each of these components plays an important role in sensing motion and bringing to life immersive, intelligent applications that enhance our daily lives.
Accelerometers, also known as G-sensors, can sense tilt, acceleration, vibration and impact. For example, a mobile device uses its accelerometer to determine which way it is physically positioned in order to rotate the screen. A wearable fitness device can measure distance, number of steps taken and pace of movement. Gaming devices use accelerometer input to measure how the user is tilting and rotating the gaming handset in order to control the onscreen action.
Accelerometers enable applications to:
- Improve user experience on mobile devices (rotate screen landscape or portrait)
- Measure movement intensity by capturing rate of motion (standing, walking, running)
- Accurately count number of repetitions (number of steps, weight lifting reps)
- Deliver motion gaming capabilities (track movement of gaming controller)
mCube’s monolithic single-chip accelerometers uniquely deliver a superior combination of performance, size and cost required by today’s motion-enabled consumer electronics. Coupled with mCube’s advanced software algorithms, designers of next generation mobile, wearable and gaming devices have a complete suite of solutions to make cutting-edge motion sensing capabilities a reality.
A magnetic sensor, or eCompass, detects the heading based on the Earth’s magnetic field. Many popular consumer devices today incorporate magnetic sensors to enable accurate directional pointing for map orientation and navigation applications. While GPS provides accurate location outdoors, given technology limits, it is generally not available indoors or sporadically available in dense urban areas. Magnetic sensors support dead reckoning, where a user’s position is tracked from the last known position, enabling accurate positioning indoors and in GPS-challenged areas.
Magnetic sensors enable applications to:
- Provide heading for portable navigation
- Provide point-to-point indoor directions
- Deliver point-of-product advertising
- Allow automatic social check-in capabilities
mCube’s eCompass provides a 10x improvement in pointing accuracy in comparison to today’s Hall Effect technology. This means mCube solutions can deliver an indoor accuracy of 2-3 meters today, making indoor navigation a compelling new, dependable feature for mobile devices.
mCube’s eCompass technology is also more suited than others to the mobile market, given the low power needs of mobile products. Given the same noise level, mCube’s solution draws better than 1/10 the power compared to GPS or Hall Effect sensors. This can translate into many more minutes of talk-time or can allow the use of a smaller battery to meet the battery life requirements in any mobile device.
A gyroscope measures the rotation rate of a device. Gyroscopes were originally developed for use in military, navigation and aviation applications. The Ggyro functionality is now integrated into several consumer applications such as mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices, indoor navigation, digital cameras, and wearables.
Gyroscopes enable applications to:
- Provide immersive augmented reality experiences
- Enhance a user’s experience for gaming on mobile devices
- Allow gaming control by simple rotations versus using the touchscreen
While the functionality of a hardware gyroscope significantly enhances the user experience for gaming on mobile devices, the cost, power consumption and board space required has limited its applicability to only the most expensive mobile products.
mCube’s iGyro™ offers the best of all worlds – a solution that delivers 9DoF sensor functionality on all mobile devices, enabling users to play sophisticated motion games, with very low power consumption, low cost and a small footprint. Additionally, the significantly lower noise of mCube’s monolithic single-chip MEMS technology enables reduced gyroscope drift, a critical requirement for advanced applications including accurate indoor navigation.