9-axis movement/position sensor performance upgraded

January 08, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
ST has updated its 9-axis MEMS inertial motion-sensing module: the new technology delivers 20% power saving and 30% higher resolution in ⅓-smaller package, meeting needs of system designers in areas such as wearable devices.

In a 3.5mm x 3mm outline, which is almost 35% smaller than previous generations, the LSM9DS1 module supports the context awareness needed for features such as gesture controls, indoor navigation, and augmented reality. Its small size and battery efficiency, achieved by using ST’s latest low-noise sensor technology, enhance the usability and comfort of wearable devices by reducing bulk and extending battery life between charges. In addition, greater positional resolution enhances the stability and precision of applications such as smart-TV remotes, game controllers, and wearable sports or medical sensors.

The LSM9DS1 contains a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis magnetometer, all fabricated using ST’s MEMS process technology. These sensors detect linear acceleration, angular rate and magnetic field to provide complete position- and movement-sensing data. They are well integrated and synchronised to provide true 9-degree-of-freedom sensing rather than separate, uncoordinated data inputs. However, each sensor can be powered-down individually with automatic wake-up, allowing extra-smart power management.

Compatibility with ST’s LSM6 family of 6-axis IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) simplifies upgrading or scaling of existing designs to add magnetic-field detection for functions such as e-compass and orientation sensing. Product developers can also upgrade current designs that combine a 6-axis LSM6 device with a discrete magnetometer to achieve a space-saving, simplified and reliable integrated solution based on the LSM9DS1.

Compared to earlier 9-axis sensor modules in the 4 x 4 mm LGA package, the LSM9DS1’s footprint of 3.5 x 3 mm saves over 5 mm 2 of PCB space. This reduction in area, combined with the low package height of only 1 mm, is valuable to designers seeking to add extra functionality in smartphones or create innovative new products in comfortable, wearable form factors, including glasses.

At the same time, the device has 30% higher magnetometer resolution, due to ST’s latest low-noise process technology, as well as 20% lower overall power consumption. ST’s technology also delivers a significant reduction in accelerometer zero-g offset, to below