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Low-power embedded MEMS motion processing for mobile applications

August 29, 2012 | Movea, Inc. | 222903142
Low-power embedded MEMS motion processing for mobile applications In the 1950’s film, “The Ten Commandments,” Actor, Charlton Heston (“Moses”) goes to the precipice of a rock overlooking the Red Sea. With his staff in hand, he parts his arms wide in a grand embracive gesture, resulting in the dramatic parting of the Red Sea. The imagination that comes from writers and movie studios often provides glimpses of new technology and this particular example illustrates the natural human desire to project ourselves to affect action, or control, from a distance. In the context of today’s technologies, it could also be an example of MEMS-enabled motion processing and motion control. This article discusses motion processing for mobile applications, providing examples from Movea’s MotionCore™ technology to illustrate throughout, and the benefits for OEMs, application developers and service providers today and in the future.
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MotionCore is a family of dedication motion processing and data fusion IP cores optimized for mobile applications that also reduce power consumption. Its designed to be sensor agnostic, freeing the supply chain to choose the best sensors for a particular product or application. MotionCore solutions can be implemented on any processing unit in the hardware design, from sensor hub to application processor, or even distributed on several processing units. The technology represents motion processing and data fusion for smart phones and tablet applications, providing motion capabilities to all sensor equipped mobile devices.

Advanced motion processing for mobile applications

The ability to apply semiconductor efficiencies to motion devices came about with the advent of MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology. Sensors such as accelerometers (A), gyroscopes (G), compasses/magnetometers (M) and pressure sensors (P), once large mechanical devices, can now be integrated as small semiconductor devices several millimeters in dimension. Motion processing is a burgeoning market thats seeing a huge growth in the deployment of sensor enabled devices, such as smart phones and tablets. In fact, according to a recent market research report from Yole Developpement, there will be more than 4 billion MEMS sensors in mobile devices by 2015. However, with this growth and increase in capabilities and power comes the question, how do we fuse this sensor data to bring useful information to the end user? One challenge for motion processing applications is the lack of advanced sensor and data fusion building blocks that can accurately interpret the data from increasingly available, and increasingly large, sensor networks. Without a strong signal processing layer and good analysis, the data of 4 billion sensors will remain untapped.

The growing global middle class and advanced rate of consumer adoption makes mobile devices a highly attractive platform for advanced motion processing. Mobile operating systems, like iOS, Android, and Windows 8, are already integrating MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes and compass/magnetometers and pressure sensors. Smart phones and tablets have increasingly muscular processors and are on ever faster development cycles. By enabling more compelling, immersive and contextually aware applications, advanced embedded signal processing solutions, like Moveas MotionCore, can provide the tools the mobile device ecosystem (i.e. IC manufacturers, platform vendors, application developers) needs to build the advanced motion features consumers want.

Implementing MotionCore technology

Offered as fixed point embedded firmware containing Movea's patented SmartMotion technologies for a wide range of embedded CPUs, MotionCore gives system integrators and OEMs the ability to reduce motion processing power consumption by a factor of 10 as compared to standard motion processing implementations. This is achieved by embedding the signal processing IP below the OS, closer to the sensor hardware or on a dedicated sensor hub. In these configurations, a range of motion features are available even when the apps processor is asleep and the mobile device is in low power mode, resulting in a better User Experience.

As depicted in Figure 1, MotionCore is ideally suited for integration into smart phone and tablet applications and can be can be implemented on different processing units available in mobile platforms.

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