Tag Archives: MEMS

Qualtré debuts 11-DOF MEMS sensor platform

New platform spurs innovation by simplifying evaluation and the development of sensor fusion algorithms.

Qualtré, Inc, a leader in the development and commercialization of Bulk Acoustic Wave MEMS inertial sensors, has debuted a MEMS sensor evaluation platform with 11 degrees of freedom (DOF). This evaluation platform combines three axes of gyroscopic data, three axes of accelerometer data, three axes of magnetic data, as well as barometric pressure/altitude and temperature. The company’s sensor fusion application software library leverages the Atmel | SMART SAM4E Cortex-M4 MCU.


“With an integrated sensor fusion framework, designers can focus on their unique motion based application,” explains Dr. Sreeni Rao, Qualtré’s VP of Vertical Markets. “It’s all about bringing the relevant data together from multiple sensors to provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of what’s going on in a system. The Qualtré 11-DOF evaluation platform makes it easy to interface multiple sensors and get started immediately writing, compiling and running sensor based applications which can easily be ported to the end-user platform.”

The current version of the sensor fusion platform provides software support for a number of functions, including Wi-Fi-based 11-DOF real-time telemetry, sensor fusion quaternion outputs, corrected heading direction and second order temperature compensation.

Typically speaking, a key challenge in sensor fusion is effectively separating signal, motion and noise. Fortunately, Qualtré’s algorithms aim to take data from different sensors that observe the same event to distinguish between noise and signals, then compute more accurate information. Sensor fusion encompasses a variety of techniques which leverage the environmental monitoring of the individual sensors and combine them intelligently to achieve broader and more precise results.

Report: Wearable sensor market to grow sevenfold in 5 years

The market for sensors used in wearable technology is set to grow sevenfold over the next five years, according to IHS Technology. The new report, entitled “MEMS & Sensors for Wearables Report – 2014,” notes fitness and health monitoring features as well as improved user interfaces among key drivers fueling this growth.


The research firm stated the worldwide market for sensors in wearables will expand to 466 million units in 2019, up from 67 million in 2013, while shipments of sensors will climb much more quickly than the market for the wearable devices themselves. As the report reveals, wearable devices are expected to increase to 135 million units in 2019, just shy of three times the total of 50 million in 2013.

“Wearables are a hotbed for sensors, with market growth driven by the increasing number of these components in each product sold,” explained Jeremie Bouchaud, IHS Technology Senior Principal Analyst. “The main factor propelling this phenomenon is a transition in market share away from simple products like pedometers and toward more sophisticated multipurpose devices such as smartwatches and smartglasses. Instead of using a single sensor like the simpler devices, the more complex products employ numerous components for health and activity monitoring, as well as for their more advanced user interfaces.”

This comes as great news for makers of motion sensors like gyroscopes and accelerometers, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), sensors driving user interfaces, and health and environmental sensors, In fact, IHS predicted the average wearable device shipped in 2019 to encompass 4.1 sensor elements, a rise from just 1.4 in 2013.

IHS shared that smartphones brands are becoming increasingly aware that wearables are a better platform for some types of sensors than mobile handsets; in addition, the firm expects components such as humidity and pulse sensors to move from handsets to wearable devices.

“The use of these types of sensors reflects consumer preferences that are propelling the growth of the wearables market,” Bouchaud said. “Users want health and fitness monitoring, and they want wearable devices that act as extensions of their smartphones. However, there’s no real demand from consumers for environmental sensors. Instead, the rising adoption of environmental sensors such as humidity and UV devices is being pushed by both sensor suppliers and wearable original equipment manufacturers (OEM).”


The market for sensors in wearables will undergo a major acceleration next year as shipments of the Apple Watch commence. Overall wearable sensor shipments will double in 2014; shipments of sensors for smartwatches will surge by nearly 600%.

“Similar to the iPhone and iPad, IHS expects the Apple Watch will set a de facto standard for sensor specifications in smartwatches. Most other wearable OEMs will follow Apple’s lead in using these four devices—or will add even more sensors to differentiate,” Bouchaud explained.

IHS goes on to reveal that fitness and heart rate monitors, along with foot pods and pedometers, led the wearable market in terms of sensor shipments in 2013. However, smartwatches will take the top position starting next year and will maintain dominance through 2019.

As this report highlights, embedded wearable technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Sensors are everywhere and are being designed into everything in the connected world. The requirements are moving from simple monitoring to full interpretation of the devices state and situation. Many of these tasks require the simultaneous analysis and fusion of data from different sensors and sensor types. These can include motion sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes), environment sensors (temperature, pressure and humidity) and many others mentioned by IHS. To simplify enabling these systems, Atmel has partnered with the leading sensor manufacturers and sensor fusion specialists to provide a complete, easy-to-implement Sensor Hub Solution.

Interested in reading more? You can access the entire IHS Research report here.


Old school gyroscope stabilizes two-wheeler

A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum. According to Wikipedia, mechanical gyroscopes typically comprise a spinning wheel or disc in which the axle is free to assume any orientation.

Although MEMS-based gyroscopes are obviously readily available these days, a Maker by the name of Jim decided to keep things old school for his classic gyro-stabilized two wheeler.

As HackADay’s Adam Fabio reports, Jim cycled through a total of five project iterations in recent months.

“Along the way he’s learned a few important secrets about mechanical gyro design, such as balancing the motor and gyro assembly to be just a bit top-heavy,” Fabio explained.

“[His] gyro is a stack of CDs directly mounted to the shaft of a brushed speed400 R/C airplane motor. The motor spins the CDs up at breakneck speed – literally. Jim mentions that they’ve exploded during some of his early experiments.”

As expected, the gyroscope can move in the fore-aft direction, with side-to-side balancing facilitated by curved tread wheels. Meanwhile, a potentiometer measures the tilt angle of the gyro, as the voltage from the pot is fed into an [Atmel-based] Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU) tasked with closing the loop by moving a servo mounted counterweight.

The vehicle is controlled via a typical R/C plane radio, with a servo steering the front wheel and another DC motor pulling rear wheel duty.

“Not only is [Jim’s] creation able to balance on its own, it can even make a U-Turn within a hallway,” Fabio added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here.