G-SENSORS : Gyrating to Popularity

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The market is expecting to see a number of motion sensing handsets making a

debut by the end of 2009. Motion sensing came to India and other parts of the

world in a big way with iPhone, but could not fascinate the users. A lot of

high-end mobiles already come with basic motion-sensing, but this year things

may get even smarter, with ultra-sensitive Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS)

gyroscopes likely to feature in at least some not-so-expensive handsets as well.


Motion sensing has become a desirable technology for a range of mobile

products: as cell phones add pedometer functions for health-conscious consumers;

phones and digital cameras adopt landscape-to-portrait and horizon-orientation

photo features; and mobile entertainment devices integrate wrist movement,

shaking, rolling and other actions into the interactive gaming experience.

MEMS is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and

electronics on a common silicon substrate through microfabrication technology.

Sensors work in a 3D (3-dimensional) environment and gather information from

its surroundings through measuring mechanical, thermal, biological, chemical,

optical, and magnetic phenomena. The electronics then process the information

derived from the sensors and, through some decision making capability, direct

the actuators to respond by moving, positioning, regulating, pumping, and



Micromachined inertial sensors, consisting of accelerometers and gyroscopes,

are one of the most important types of silicon-based sensors.

Microaccelerometers alone have the second largest sales volume after pressure

sensors. It is believed that gyroscopes will soon be mass-produced at similar

volumes once manufacturers are able to meet a $10 price target. Applications for

gyroscopes are broad.

High to Mid

The ultra sensitivity of these gyroscopes makes them an apt choice for motion
sensing hansets. At present the likes of the N95 and N96 use accelerometers to

work out which way they are facing and how fast they are moving-this works fine

for applications, but the technology is not massively advanced. MEMS gyroscopes

are in a whole different league. This is the same technology that will be used

in Nintendo's forthcoming Wii MotionPlus controller add-on, a super-sensitive

dongle that allows the already-motion sensitive Wii Remote controller to measure

gamers' real-time actions and replicate them identically on screen while a game

is being played.

In India, the handsets manufacturers have already been experimenting with

motion sensing applications by first introducing them for gaming.


Among the other already available options is the Sony Ericsson F305 priced at

Rs 9,000. This model is no stranger to the gaming market with their PSP rating

quite high on the handheld gaming console segment.

This year, Sony Ericsson entered into a deal with a motion sensing technology

company, GestureTek, which could bring a new generation of motion sensitive

games to Sony Ericsson handsets.

Heena Jhingan