Analog Devices, Freescale, and STMicroelectronics Release New Sensor Products

June 20, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

The last week witnessed several interesting new product releases dealing with sensor technology from Analog Devices, Freescale, and STMicroelectronics.

A new inertial sensing solution introduced by Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) is claimed to compensate for GPS signal loss or vehicle-induced signal irregularities in truck fleets, agricultural equipment, commercial and small aircraft, as well as ships, tankers, and other vehicles that rely on GPS satellite navigation to maintain accurate positional information.

Leveraging ADI’s iMEMS® Motion Signal Processing Technology™, the ADIS16355 inertial measurement unit (IMU) is said to allow industrial designers for the first time to equip their systems with sophisticated motion analysis and navigational dead reckoning functions previously reserved for defense, aerospace, and other high-end applications, at approximately one tenth of the cost. By detecting tiny shifts in linear acceleration and angular movement, the ADIS16355 provides dead reckoning, allowing vehicles to remain on course until a lost GPS signal is restored. In addition to navigation, the ADIS16355 can be used in highly sensitive robotic and other motion control devices, where the IMU helps make certain that precision movements can be accurately repeated thousands of times.

The ADIS16355 will sample in July and is priced at $359 per unit in 1,000-unit quantities.

Freescale Semiconductor announced that it has expanded its micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)-based sensor portfolio with a 3-axis digital-output accelerometer that is claimed to be 77% smaller than previous industry offerings. Said to be the world’s thinnest accelerometer, the MMA7450L is available in a 0.8 mm thin plastic land grid array (LGA) package designed to meet the growing space constraints of feature-rich portable devices. Designed to simplify integration of microprocessors and microcontrollers (MCUs), the MMA7450L is well-suited for handheld terminals that implement user interfaces based on hand movements and appliances that require movement, acceleration or inclination sensing.

The MMA7450L can communicate on both I2C and SPI interface buses. The digital output streamlines communication with the MCU or microprocessor. It eliminates the need for a dedicated analog-to-digital converter and enables the sensor to share interfaces with other devices, saving further space in small-form-factor systems. Additionally, portable device manufacturers can connect the MMA7450L directly to a wireless platform, such as Freescale’s i.MX architecture, or a highly integrated 8-bit MCU to design accelerometers into cell phones and portable media devices. The MMA7450L enables an array of motion-based functions, such as tilt scrolling, gaming control, tap to mute and freefall hard disk drive protection.

The MMA7450L accelerometer is available now in sample quantities, with general availability expected in the third quarter of 2007. The suggested list price per unit in 10,000-piece quantities is $2.66.

STMicroelectronics extended its range of motion sensors with a new digital-output two-axis linear accelerometer. The low-power, ultra-compact LIS202DL with embedded smart features addresses a wide range of consumer and industrial applications from motion-activated user interfaces to vibration monitoring. Smart features embedded in ST’s new accelerometer include click and double-click recognition, motion-detection/wake-up and high-pass filters. The LIS202DL is said to make it easier to associate simple tapping gestures with user commands, such as opening a document or selecting an option from an application menu. Similarly, a ringing mobile phone can be muted with a single tap, without taking the phone out of the pocket.

ST’s LIS202DL is housed in a 5 x 3 x 0.9 mm LGA-14 plastic package to fit in a variety of space-constrained applications and its ultra-compact robust design provides shock survivability up to 10,000g. Built-in self-test capability allows the customer to verify the functioning of the sensor after it has been assembled on the board. The sensor is available in a dynamically selectable choice of +/-2g and +/-8g acceleration ranges, suited for measuring both static and dynamic acceleration. The new device targets a wide range of low-g applications in consumer and industrial markets, including motion-activated user interfaces, gaming in portable devices and vibration monitoring.

Samples of ST’s LIS202DL are available now, with volume production planned for the end of Q2 2007. Unit pricing is $3 for quantities of 10,000 pieces.

ST also announced the launch of the QST108, the first IC in a family of capacitive touch sense products that will enable contemporary and innovative user interfaces for many markets. QST family products are all-digital standard products based on proven, patented technology recently licensed from Quantum Research Group. ST is the first semiconductor company to license QProx™ technology from Quantum.

The QST108 sensor device allows users to create capacitive touch-panels of up to 8 keys for their product user interfaces, using conventional or flexible printed circuit board. The sense electrodes can be part of the PCB layout or can even be printed using conductive ink, with flexibility in electrode sizes and shapes. The QST108 detects finger touch using an electrode behind a non-conductive front panel made from materials such as glass or plastic. External component count is low, with only one sampling capacitor and one resistor per channel being required.

Initially available in a 32-pin LQFP package, the QST108 drives up to 8 LEDs. It features PWM capability (pulse width modulation) to drive a beeper output or to control LED brightness. De-bounced touch detection results are accessible through individual outputs or through the I2C interface. I2C allows the QST108 to communicate with the application host controller. User configurable parameters and control functions such as detection threshold, detection integrator, sensor recalibration, low power mode activation, AKS mode and key states and configuration are accessible using simple I2C commands.