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About Don Dingee

An experienced strategic marketer and editorial professional, and an engineer by education, Don is currently a blogger, speaker, and author on social computing topics, and a marketing strategy consultant. He's had previous gigs at Embedded Computing Design magazine, Motorola, and General Dynamics.

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You Can Observe a Lot by Just Sensing

Posted February 15, 2013 12:00 AM by dondingee

CES for years has been the show with TVs and DVD players, photography gear, PCs, audio equipment, electronic toys, and more recently smartphones and tablets. This year felt a lot different - pun intended - as sensing came front and center, and consumers are taking notice.

Microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, enable creation of tiny structures on a semiconductor chip, such as vibrating plates providing a gyroscopic effect. MEMS sensors aren't new, but are hitting new levels of package integration as commercialization and adoption in mainstream devices take hold, and the concepts of sensor fusion and context awareness are now getting a lot of attention.

MEMS gyroscopes are inexpensive - roughly speaking, $1 per axis in significant volumes - and small. While not quite as precise as their larger cousins like the fiber optic gyroscope, they bring impressive capability into the reach of consumer handheld or wearable electronics. Here's a sample of MEMS parts announced at CES 2013.

  • InvenSense announced their MPU-9250, a 9-axis - gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass - motion tracking device in a 3mm x 3mm x 1mm package.
  • Kionix introduced a thinner 3 axis accelerometer, the KXCJA, in a 3mm x 3mm x 0.7mm package.
  • Xsens - the company behind 3D motion tracking for many films - demonstrated their technology for placing sensors on many points of a body, embedded in clothing.
  • Bosch introduced several devices, including the BNO055, a 9-axis sensor in a larger 5.0 mm x 4.0mm package but including an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller inside.

Read the rest of this blog post.

The connection between MEMS sensors and mHealth is deep, but the innovations coming from new parts utilizing more intelligence and sensor fusion in many applications will drive the next generation of consumer devices. What have you seen as a useful device integrating motion sensor technology? How does the ability to integrate sensors with mobile device apps change things for you? Share your ideas in the comments.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Don Dingee for sharing this blog entry.

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