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Freescale Semiconductor Announces Triple Axis MEMS Accelerometers for Consumer Applications

On January 8, 2007, at the CES show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Freescale Semiconductor announced the availability of three new micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) triple-axis acceleration sensors. Freescale is a major supplier of MEMS acceleration sensors for automotive applications, but the three new sensors extend Freescale’s capabilities into a wide variety of consumer applications. They feature low-power, zero-g detect for freefall protection, a small footprint for portable applications and a self-test function.

There are many potential applications for MEMS accelerometers in consumer products. One example is hard disk drive protection in portable electronic devices such as MP3 players or PDAs. Zero-g detection provides a logic interrupt signal when all three axes are at zero-g. Advanced motion sensing then detects when a device is falling so that steps can be taken to prevent damage to hard drives or other sensitive electronic components.

Another example is game controllers. Heightened multi-axis sensitivity and a full range of motion allow mobile and game users to make very small movements that result in accurate, controllable responses when scrolling, flying, driving or executing other quick responses. Other potential applications include recording falls or shock to limit warrant coverage, camera stabilization, electronic compass tilt compensation, GPS backup, image rotation, tap to mute and many others.

The three devices provide different selectable sensitivity ranges: 1.5g to 6g for part number MMA7360L, 3g to 12g for part number MMA7340L and 4g to 16g for part number MMA7330L. These selectable sensitivity ranges are essential to meet differing requirements to detect fall, tilt, motion, position, shock or vibration in specific applications

Semico Spin

There are numerous applications for three-axis MEMS accelerometers in consumer products. Some are obvious; logging falls to help adjudicate warranty issues for example. Others are mentioned above. But, Semico believes that applications for the three-axis sensors Freescale has announced are limited only by consumer products designers’ imaginations.

Freescale has provided three-axis accelerometers at a reasonable price and with appropriate electrical and mechanical specifications. Who knows what elegant consumer applications might emerge, given the ability to respond to motions in three axes?