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Freescale's 12-Axis Sensor Platform for Windows 8

By Vijay Anand - on 10 Jun 2012, 12:45pm

Freescale's 12-Axis Sensor Platform for Windows 8

With so much momentum and support for Windows 8 related devices on the show floor of Computex, the next quarter will likely see a whole refresh of computing devices from various system, notebook and tablet vendors. It’s vital that Microsoft succeeds in this upcoming OS implementation to stay relevant as the industry involves to embrace computing anywhere, cloud computing/storage and other forward-looking computing trends.

To support the growing Windows 8 ecosystem, Freescale has developed a brand new 12-axis sensor platform that’s designed exclusively to work with the new OS. This platform consists of the following sensors:-

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 3-axis magnetometer
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • 1-axis pressure sensor (doubles up as altimeter)
  • Temp sensor
  • Proximity sensor (light sensor)

Combining the above sensors into a tiny package is the new 12-axis sensor platform from Freescale. Shown here is just a reference development package but actual implantation can scale down to be even more integrated and compact.

The new 12-axis sensor platform is designed around standard Windows 8 built-in HID diver support stack via the USB communication protocol. Thus products using this sensor platform can be integrated much easier than relying on further driver support. This enables quick deployment, while software designed for Windows 8 can tap into the built-in driver support to leverage on the sensors’ capabilities. Windows 7 on the other hand has limited built-in support for such sensors and thus Freescale won’t be recommending use of this new sensor platform on older equipment and software.

Freescale’s software sensor data collector relays in real-time of the actual values registered from various sensors on the reference sensor platform as we handled it in various ways. The proximity sensor was perhaps most interesting to notice in its functionality as it registered the amount of light its receiving based on senor visibility/blockage.

The other upsides of Freescale’s new sensor platform is tighter integration, power savings and cost effectiveness by integrated all of the above mentioned sensors on a compact package with Freescale’s ColdFire+ microcontroller that process all the sensor data. In addition, Freescale’s sensor fusion software comes into play for combining data obtained, configuring the sensors and more.

There is an increasing uptake of devices integrating accelerometers, gyroscopes and compass functionality into mobile devices and the number will only soar in the coming years ahead. As such, Freescale’s platform that combines a multitude of discrete sensors and handled by a single microcontroller for efficient processing and management is a solution that would go well with several handheld, tablet and even notebook manufacturers.

Products using Freescale’s new 12-axis sensor platform are currently in development and actual availability depends on each customer’s roll-out schedule. One thing for sure is that they will be out after Q3 of 2012 when Windows 8 would have been formally launched. Here's a basic demo from Freescale on how the test platform responds:-

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