STMicroelectronics (ST) has rolled out an always-on, high performance inertial measurement unit (IMU) that combines a 6-axis accelerometer with a 6-axis gyroscope targeted at wearable devices and new products involving the Internet of Things (IoT).
The device, dubbed the LSM6DS3, is the first product of ST’s iNEMO Ultra family of low power, small size IMUs that when paired with a low-power microcontroller can provide 20 percent energy savings when compared to alternative IMUs, ST said. With a size of 2.5mm by 3.0mm by 0.8mm, the IMU also is small enough to not take up valuable space in a wearables market that is increasingly looking for tiny devices, the company said.
“While smartphones and tablets are the main market for IMUs, wearables is rapidly emerging as the third largest market opportunity in this space,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, senior director of MEMS & Sensors at IHS Technology. “ST already dominates the sensor market for wearables – mostly with discrete accelerometers – with 26 percent revenue share in 2013.”
Bouchaud added that power consumption and size are even more critical in wearables than it is in smartphones and tablets, so “the part from ST is well positioned for wearables.”
IHS forecasts revenue for the 6-axis IMU market to reach $702.6 million by 2016, up from just $155.7 million in 2012, as shown in Figure 1. The market will also manage a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.0 percent during the forecast period.
According to IHS, ST dominates the supply of discrete accelerometers in wearables with 66 percent market share. Discrete accelerometers accounted for 85 percent of ST’s revenue in this segment with the rest of their wearable revenue being made up of 9-axis IMUs. Some of the wearables that ST’s IMUs play in include activity and heart monitors from Fibit, Nike Fuekand, Jawbone Up and Maxwell Guider Technology; smart watches from Pebble, Swimovate and CST; smart glasses from Google Glass XE-C, Reccon and Google, and other wearables from Brain Sentry, X2 Biosytems, Hövding and Preventice.
ST said the LSM6DS3 IMU will be available sometime in the fourth quarter of this year delivered in a 2-chip system-in-package.