9-axis motion sensor is hailed as industry's smallest

21st June 2016
Nat Bowers

Housed in a compact 2.5x3.0x0.95mm3 package, the BMX160 has been announced by Bosch Sensortec as the world’s smallest 9-axis motion sensor. The device is suited for space- and power-constrained applications such as smartphones, smart watches, fitness trackers, smart jewelry (e.g. rings, necklaces) as well as AR/VR devices.

By combining Bosch Sensortec’s advanced accelerometer, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensor technologies, the BMX160 is able to meet the increasingly more stringent low-power requirements demanded by wearable devices. Bosch's low-power sensor technology makes this the standout 9­-axis inertial sensor on the market, reducing power consumption below 1.5mA.

Jeanne Forget, Vice President Marketing, Bosch Sensortec, commented: “By combining Bosch Sensortec’s advanced sensor technologies into a single compact package, the BMX160 sets new industry benchmarks for high performance, tiny footprint and low power consumption. This device finally overcomes today’s placement constraints in smartphones and directly addresses the demands of wearable devices, where PCB space and low power consumption are at an even greater premium.”

Enabling wearable applications

The BMX160 sensor enables Android wearable applications relying on sensor data such as device orientation, magnetic heading or the gravity vector. Moreover, the sensor supports applications such as 3D indoor mapping and smartphone optimised VR applications (e.g. cardboard VR). The sensor can be used in conjunction with the Bosch Sensortec BSX sensor data fusion software library to further optimise performance.

The single-package BMX160 effectively replaces the present mainstream two-component workaround solution, i.e. combination of a 6-axis IMU with a 3-axis geomagnetic sensor. This innovative 9-axis motion sensor provides the placement flexibility necessary for overcoming current limitations on positioning of the magnetic sensor. Pin- and register-compatibility with Bosch Sensortec’s industry-standard 6-axis BMI160 IMU simplifies the task of upgrading designs.

Built-in power management unit

The BMX160 has a built-in power management unit and ultra-low power background application features. This enables the power-hungry application processor to remain in sleep mode much longer, for example when counting steps, which further contributes to extending battery recharge intervals. The integrated step counter function and the Android compatible significant motion detector only consume 30µA each.

The accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetic technology in the BMX160 have been optimised for low offset, low noise and best temperature stability. Bosch Sensortec gyroscope technology offers an extremely low drift, which is a key requirement for an accurate real-time user experience, especially in AR & VR applications.

Samples are available for development partners.

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