Freescale ships one billionth sensor, nears 30 years of sensor innovation

Sensor technology leader puts embedded designers on fast track with new, modular Sensor Toolbox

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Freescale Semiconductor's sensor technology innovation has helped global customers differentiate their automotive, consumer, industrial and medical products throughout the past three decades. Building on its heritage of sensor leadership, Freescale recently reached a major milestone of one billion sensors shipped.

Offering one of the broadest sensor portfolios in the industry, Freescale has achieved strong growth in well-established sensor markets, such as industrial, automotive safety and medical, as well as emerging consumer applications. Freescale is a leading supplier of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) acceleration and pressure sensors. According to the industry analyst firm iSuppli, Freescale ranks as the industry's No. 1 merchant automotive sensor supplier.

"With the current global economy, we expect the MEMS market to reinvent itself and move away from being largely automotive and toward the growing consumer electronics and industrial control markets," said Jérémie Bouchaud, iSuppli principal analyst for MEMS. "Freescale is well positioned to leverage its experience in high-volume manufacturing for automotive applications into sensor product solutions to take advantage of these growth opportunities."

The extensive Freescale sensor portfolio includes MEMS-based acceleration and pressure sensors, as well as CMOS-based proximity (touch) sensors. Freescale MEMS sensors combine rich integration, embedded software and digital interface capabilities with intelligent communication to help developers create differentiation for their products.

"Shipping one billion sensors represents an important milestone for Freescale and our customers," said Demetre Kondylis, vice president and general manager of Freescale's Sensor and Actuator Solutions Division. "It signifies Freescale's long-term commitment to creating innovative sensor products, as well as ease-of-use solutions like our new Sensor Toolbox, that help our customers excel in competitive global markets."

Streamlining embedded designs with the Sensor Toolbox

To help make sensor application development easier and faster, Freescale has introduced the Sensor Toolbox, a unified set of development software, hardware (including interchangeable daughter cards), documentation and accessories for Freescale acceleration, pressure and proximity sensors.

The customizable, plug-and-play Sensor Toolbox is compatible with multiple toolsets and can demonstrate end application capabilities for each sensor type (acceleration, pressure, proximity) on a common platform. Multiple USB-enabled sensor evaluation kits are available as part of the toolbox. Each kit uses a common graphical user interface (GUI) that requires one software installation, reducing complexity and improving reliability through periodic software updates. The GUI includes demo, evaluation and tutorial modes.

The Sensor Toolbox also includes complimentary sensor algorithms to help developers get the most from the Freescale sensor functions such as orientation, shake, tap, freefall, motion, tilt, positioning, shock or vibration with inertial sensors; PSI conversion for gauge pressure and altimetry for absolute pressure with pressure sensors; and water level monitoring, switch replacement and touch pad implementations with proximity sensors.

Sensor Toolbox pricing and availability

Five Sensor Toolbox evaluation kits are available now:

- Accelerometer Interface Board with USB Communication available at a suggested resale price of $50 (USD).

- MMA7660FC Accelerometer Development Board available at a suggested resale price of $75 (USD)

- Pressure Sensor Interface Board with USB Communication available at a suggested resale price of $79 (USD)

- MPXV5004DP Pressure Sensor Development Board available at a suggested resale price of $49 (USD)

- MPR03x Proximity Sensor Kit available at a suggested resale price of $99 (USD)m

Freescale plans to add evaluation kits to the Sensor Toolbox in early Q3 2009 and beyond.

One billion sensors and counting

Freescale entered the MEMS sensor market in 1980 with its first pressure sensor product. The company introduced temperature-compensated pressure sensors in the mid-1980s and began developing its first surface micro-machined acceleration sensors for the automotive airbag market in the late 1980s.

Today, Freescale offers an extensive acceleration sensor portfolio, including 2- and 3-axis devices with g-select and power-select features that allow developers to choose the right level of acceleration sensitivity and low-power consumption for their application requirements. Freescale's MEMS sensors are combined in the MPXY8300 TPMS system-in-package solution, which integrates a pressure sensor, an XZ-axis accelerometer, an 8-bit microcontroller (MCU) and a radio frequency (RF) transmitter. Freescale recently introduced its first digital barometric pressure sensor, the MPL115A, for a wide variety of consumer and industrial applications.

Freescale's broad portfolio of acceleration sensors is ideal for a diverse range of existing and emerging applications that require accurate detection of small changes in force. Applications include:

- High-shock detection for multiple-airbag solutions

- Other automotive applications, such as rollover detection, tire pressure monitoring and engine control

- Remote sensing, which combines a sensor with a ZigBee® transceiver to relay sensing data (often used in industrial and medical applications)

- Pressure sensing for respiratory medical equipment

- Vibration detection for industrial motor stability

- Advanced mobile phone interfaces

- Free-fall detection to help protect data stored in laptop disk drives, cell phones, MP3 players and other handheld devices

- Other consumer applications, such as video gaming

Freescale sensors complement the company's broad portfolio of MCUs, microprocessors, digital signal processors, analog and power management ICs, and ZigBee wireless technology. The combination of these products and technologies with Freescale sensors provides customers with comprehensive system-level embedded control solutions for a wide range of applications.

Freescale at Transducers 2009

Freescale is demonstrating its latest sensor technology and enablement tools at Transducers 2009 in booth #3, June 22-25.

Demonstration highlights include:

- Sensor Toolbox accelerometer, pressure and proximity sensor USB communication boards that connect to the MMA7660FC, MPXV5004DP and MPR03x development boards

- MMA7660FC smart motion accelerometers with power-select for orientation, shake and tap functions

- MPXV5004DP pressure sensors - on-chip signal conditioned, temperature compensated and calibrated

- MPR03x compact, low-power proximity sensors

- MPL115A digital barometer for cost-sensitive applications

- Low-g inertial sensors for electronic stability control in automobiles

For more information about Freescale sensor products, visit

About the Virtual Freescale Technology Forum

The Virtual Freescale Technology Forum (FTF), to be held July 14-16, 2009, is an online supplement to Freescale's existing global FTF program. Created to inspire innovation and collaboration, FTF has become the developer event of the year for the embedded semiconductor industry. The Forum, which debuted in 2005, has drawn more than 28,000 attendees at FTF events worldwide since its inception. For more information about Virtual FTF, go to:
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