Micro-mirror MEMS sensors central to Intel’s Perceptual Computing explorations

March 03, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
STMicroelectronics has disclosed that it is providing micro-mirrors and control devices for initiatives at Intel, which are aimed at, “fundamentally changing [the] human-computer interaction”. ST supplies ASIC control devices and a tiny MEMS mirror that moves thousands of times per second to scan an infrared light beam, painting an invisible grid on objects in front of it for 3D imaging and gesture applications.

ST currently positions itself as the the leading supplier of MEMS for consumer and mobile applications (according figures from analyst IHS): the company has announced that it has supplied micro-mirrors and control devices for Perceptual Computing initiatives at Intel. In addition to control ASICs, ST supplies a MEMS mirror that moves at kHz speed to scan an IR beam. Light reflected back from the object is captured and analysed for 3D imaging and gesture applications. The use of MEMS technology to realise the mirror enables small and robust systems with high-performance and low-energy characteristics ideally suited to a wide variety of consumer devices, “creating new dimensions in the natural interaction of people with technology”.

As a closely-related application in the HMI space, ST’s MEMS technology has been applied to what it claims as smallest and slimmest projection engine, only millimetres thick, which fits into the screen of a laptop or tablet computer and offers an field of view of nearly 90 degrees. In this case the micro-mirror fabrication uses electro-static actuation, has very low power consumption, and integrates hardware safety mechanisms that provide protection from hacking and malfunctions.

ST cites its range of expertise that it applied to address the, “significant power, actuation, inertial, and jitter issues to build the right micro-mirror, and integrate the analogue front end and digital logic onto a single low-power die, to achieve the form-factors necessary for mainstream device integration.”

“The natural user-interface revolution with Perceptual Computing is upon us, and the mirror technology that ST has developed is an important contribution,” said Sagi Ben Moshe, Director Depth Camera Engineering, Intel Corporation. “Intel and its partners are redefining how people interact with their devices for gaming, entertainment, and content creation through a best-in-class depth sensor that delivers PCs and tablets 3D vision for new, immersive experiences.”

STMicroelectronics; www.st.com