updated 11:01 pm EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
New IMU half the volume of current iPhone, Galaxy S4 chipset
Seiko Epson Corporation has successfully developed the world's smallest inertial measurement unit (IMU), widely used in mobile devices to detect movement. Epson will begin shipping samples of the M-V340, the first product in the new V series of IMUs, in December 2013 with mass production likely to begin some time in the second quarter of 2014. The chip is intended for smartphone and other mobile applications, is less than 10 percent the volume of its Epson-made predecessor, and takes 40 percent less power to operate at 18mA.
Epson developed a dedicated IC for the V series that enabled the company to reduce the number of parts and optimize the design of the layout to create an IMU that measures 10 x 12 x 4 mm, and weighs one gram. The M-V340 is small enough to be used in ultra-compact, lightweight devices to enable IMU applications in a variety of fields. In the medical and rehabilitation fields in particular, devices equipped with the new IMU show promise in the measurement of movement -- as they can be attached to a patient to accurately measure movement without limiting motion or feeling obtrusive.
Similar devices are in use in nearly every smartphone and tablet for device orientation and motion sensing. The benefits of a smaller and less power-hungry device, using standard protocols for communication, are clear. The chip will allow for thinner devices in the future as well as enhance battery life. The IMU in both the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 are more than twice the volume and half the accuracy of the new Epson device.