DSP-based hubs target low-power sensor fusion apps - Embedded.com

DSP-based hubs target low-power sensor fusion apps

Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) chip manufacturer Robert Bosch GmbH has introduced its first sensor hub, in two models, which it claims has lower power consumption than the competition for always-on applications with extended battery life. The same group introduced application specific sensor nodes (ASSNs) with firmware that handles specific Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable applications. Its subsidiary Akustica simultaneously announced two high-definition (HD) MEMS microphones for better voice recognition accuracy and improved noise suppression.

“Bosch has already been combining different sensors on the same chip for inertial, geomagnetic and environmental applications,” Jeanne Forget, Global Marketing Director, Bosch Sensortec told EE Times. “But now we are announcing Bosch's first sensor hubs, to combine MEMS sensors of any type with an on-chip micro-controller to perform the sensor fusion, which is especially good for IoT applications.”

Bosch Sensortec claims that its first sensor hubs with integrated microcontrollers for Android smart phones runs at lower power (1mA) that any other sensor hub.(Source: Bosch)

Bosch Sensortec claims that its first sensor hubs with integrated microcontrollers for Android smart phones runs at lower power (1mA) that any other sensor hub.
(Source: Bosch)

The two new sensor hubs are specifically designed for Android smartphones and wearables as well as any IoT device that needs to fuse the inputs of several different types of MEMS sensors in order to deduce things like activity — such as riding in a car, walking, running or fitness training — as well as for indoor navigation and gesture recognition. Bosch is also offering application specific sensor nodes using the same MEMS fusion capabilities, but offering microcontroller firmware that is customized for a specific application.

Bosch claims its BHI160 and BHA250 low power operation makes them suitable for always-on sensor applications such as fitness tracking, indoor navigation and gesture recognition(Source: Bosch)

Bosch claims its BHI160 and BHA250 low power operation makes them suitable for always-on sensor applications such as fitness tracking, indoor navigation and gesture recognition
(Source: Bosch)

The latest trend in smartphones and wearables is supporting several complementary sensors, which together deduce the user's activity in order to anticipate their needs. But without a sensor hub, the application processor has to perform those duties. With Bosch's sensor hubs, Forget claims, IMU fusion — accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer — with batch processing data transfers from an on-chip first-in-first-out FIFO buffer to the application processor while consuming under 1-milliamp plus allows the application processor to be more responsive to the user.

“The new combo sensor sensor hubs — Bosch Hub IMU (BHI160) and the Bosch Hub Accelerometer (BHA250) — offload the application processor, reducing power consumption by as much as 95 percent,” Forget told us.

The 3-by-3 millimeter Bosch Hub IMU already contains an accelerometer and a gyroscope inside plus a Fuser Core — a digital signal processor (DSP) — that implements 3- or 6-axis MEMS of the entire Android Lollipop sensor stack plus has an I2C input bus for magnetometer, pressure, humidity, ambient light and any other sensor needed for a specialized application. The 2.2-by-2.2 millimeter Bosch Hub Accelerometer cuts power by omitting the on-chip gyroscope (a soft gyro can be implemented, however, with an external magnetometer). Either model supports multiple linked sensor hubs.


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