STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, the world’s top MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) manufacturer, and the leading supplier of MEMS devices for consumer and mobile applications 1, has leveraged its investment in advanced MEMS technology to create the world’s smallest eCompass combining a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis magnetometer in a single package.
Measuring just 2mm x 2mm, the tiny chip, used for advanced navigation and motion-sensitive features in products such as smartphones, is nearly 20% smaller than similar devices.
Even the smallest space savings can be precious inside a smartphone, activity-monitoring bracelet or smart watch, and ST’s new LSM303C eCompass saves almost 1mm2 of pc-board space compared to the closest competing device. This helps designers to optimize their component layout and minimize Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and cellular radio interference thereby improving the performance of applications like indoor navigation or advanced motion tracking. For other smart consumer and professional applications, including wearable devices, the LSM303C’s size advantage enables smaller form factors. In addition, the package of this combined accelerometer and magnetometer is board-compatible with ST’s 12-lead pure-accelerometer devices, allowing designers to quickly enhance or upgrade the features of more basic products.
The LSM303C integrates a high-performance three-axis magnetic field sensor with a state-of-the-art three-axis accelerometer to provide an accurate orientation signal at its 16-bit digital output. With a full-scale magnetic-field strength range of ±16 Gauss or ±1600 microTesla (µT), the magnetic-field sensor has a wider dynamic range than alternative devices. The accelerometer has selectable full-scale range of ±2, ±4 or ±8 g, and combines high resolution with state-of-the-art output accuracy. The LSM303C also has advanced power management, thermal compensation, a wide analog supply-voltage range, and programmable interrupt generators for movement, free-fall and magnetic-field detection helping streamline system design. The low noise level and low power consumption of the LSM303C also help simplify software design by allowing motion applications to operate continuously.
The LSM303C can be combined with a discrete miniature gyroscope from ST’s large MEMS portfolio, such as the 3mm x 3mm L3GD20H, to achieve 9-axis sensing in equipment such as high-end smartphones, gaming controllers or sports monitors. ST’s sensor portfolio comprises discrete accelerometers, magnetic-field sensors and gyroscopes, digital compasses such as the new LSM303C, integrated inertial modules with 6 or 9 degrees of freedom, ARM®-based smart sensors, the iNEMO Engine sensor-fusion software suite, and the iNEMO-M1 small form-factor system on board.
“As the world’s smallest eCompass, the LSM303C is ideal for use in all smartphones and innovative context-sensitive devices used throughout the home, workplace, wellness and leisure activities. Moreover, when used together with our MEMS gyroscopes, it can support even more advanced movement and position-related functionality,” said Fabio Pasolini, General Manager, Motion MEMS Division, STMicroelectronics. “This tiny new sensor extends our MEMS portfolio, which continues to maintain its industry-leading position based on early and sustained investment in the technology.”
ST is sampling the LSM303C now, and will begin mass producing devices in the 2mm x 2mm x 1mm LGA package in December 2013. Pricing will start at $1.1 for orders over 1,000 pieces.
For further information on ST’s digital compasses please go to www.st.com/ecompass-pr.
1 source: IHS, MEMS H2 2012 special report