Insights from industry

Barometric Pressure Sensor for Accurate Indoor Navigation


Andrea Orzati, Vice President Mobile & Consumer Business at Sensirion, talks to AZoSensors about their new barometric pressure sensor and the high level of accuracy it offers for indoor navigation.

Could you briefly explain the basic technique of how the new barometric pressure sensor works?

Our new pressure sensor SPT-BX is the smallest in its class and uses new capacitive measurement technology to guarantee unrivalled precision. It can measure pressure differences with an unrivalled accuracy of ±1 Pa. With this previously unheard-of degree of precision, it is capable of detecting altitude differentials as small as the height of a single step on a stairway. As well as determining ambient pressure, the SPT-BX can also measure temperatures to an absolute accuracy of ±0.4°C. Sized just 1.4 × 1.0 × 0.6 mm, it is the smallest sensor in its class, and thus offers unlimited scope for use in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as in smartphones, tablets, and wearables.

Barometric pressure sensor

Barometric pressure sensor

How does this differ from other sensors on the market?

Today, market standard are piezoresistive-type sensors which are limited in many aspects due to their working principle. Our sensor uses capacitive measurement technology to guarantee unrivalled precision, speed, temperature stability and power consumption. The persuasive tiny size offers unlimited scope for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Based on this innovative technology, the barometric pressure sensor measures the smallest pressure differences.

Why is its ability to detect altitude differences of as little as ±1 Pa beneficial?

1 Pa translates to 13cm at standard conditions which equals a single step of a staircase. The benefit is therefore that this level of accuracy guarantees to detect height changes in the order of a single step on a staircase. Precise detection of changes in altitude is critical to indoor and outdoor navigation.

What are the primary applications of the sensor?

Primary applications of the sensor are Indoor Navigation with floor or stair level tracking – e.g. to guide in shopping malls or 3D step counter. It significantly opens the door to new applications that provide insights into daily routines and workouts.

Thanks to its unique sensitivity and temperature stability, the sensor opens up new dimensions in indoor navigation and in applications for monitoring daily routines and activities.

In a recent press release Sensirion mention that it will have significant benefits for indoor navigation applications. Could you explain how this will work?

The pressure sensor allows indoor navigation applications to have a very accurate output when it comes to find a store in a shopping mall because thanks to the sensor the device can tell the user how many steps and meters he or she has to do to reach the store.  

The same press release also states that the sensor is incredibly small. What devices will house this sensor and for what reason?

It is one of the smallest of its kind. The sensor is exceptionally compact, measuring just 1.4 × 1.0 × 0.6 mm, so there are no limits to where it can be used and fits into any consumer device. The sensor fits seamlessly into an existing product range designed for wearables, smartphones, tablets, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

How do you see this technology developing over the next decade?

To react to their surroundings intelligently, devices need sensors. And that’s where we come in. Sensirion's range of products for measuring environmental parameters currently includes gas, pressure, humidity, and temperature sensors. At present we are the only company to offer a complete solution, thanks to our many years of experience in sensor technology and consumer products. This means we are a one-stop shop: we provide support in integrating sensors, we supply drivers and software, we take responsibility for all aspects of algorithm-based signal processing, and can even take charge of the further processing of the data in the cloud.

Where can our readers learn more?

Readers can visit our webpage.

There they can find all information about our sensors and about our complete solution for environmental measuring.  Our range of products for measuring environmental parameters currently includes gas, pressure, humidity, and temperature sensors.

About Andrea Orzati

Research group leader at ETH Zurich, various years at u-blox AG as RF IC design manager. From 2008 Manager Distribution Network at Sensirion AG, then several positions as Director International Sales and Sales & Marketing Director Gas Flow, later Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Vice President Mobile & Consumer Business at Sensirion AG since 2014. Studied electronics at University of Cagliari, PhD in electronics at ETH Zurich and MBA from EPFL and HEC Lausanne.

Andrea Orzati


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Stuart Milne

Written by

Stuart Milne

Stuart graduated from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with a first-class honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After working on a start-up company involved in LED Lighting solutions, Stuart decided to take an opportunity with AZoNetwork. Over the past five years at AZoNetwork, Stuart has been involved in developing an industry leading range of products, enhancing client experience and improving internal systems designed to deliver significant value for clients hard earned marketing dollars. In his spare time Stuart likes to continue his love for art and design by creating art work and continuing his love for sketching. In the future Stuart, would like to continue his love for travel and explore new and exciting places.


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