Thursday, June 12, 2008

Global Sensors Outlook

New Technologies Promoting Market Development

The sensors market is highly competitive, dynamic, and diverse and at the same time is recognized as a growth market. Sensors are widely used from very simple functions to many critical applications in industries as diverse as oil and gas to automotive, food and beverage, and healthcare. The market is continuously evolving with the launch of new technologies and entry of new market participants. These factors have also resulted in a high degree of fragmentation with the presence of a large number of small regional participants.

With regard to various sensor segments, the semiconductor-based sensors market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8 percent. Applications such as in-vitro diagnostics, biochips, optical mouse, and micrometers are likely to witness a greater penetration of semiconductor-based sensors. "As for microscopic electro mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, And Documentation (TREAD) Act is driving the use of tire pressure sensors and electronic stability control systems in automotive applications," notes the analyst of this research service. "Growth factors for MEMS in the consumer segment include the use of accelerometers in computer notebooks and mobile phones for shock detection and tilt sensing and gyroscopes for image stabilization in mobile phone cameras."

Wireless Technology expected to Drive Future Growth

Wireless, fiber optic, smart sensors, and metal-oxide sensors are expected to define the marketplace of tomorrow. Wireless sensor networks are the future of the electronic world and will require the success of two new breakthrough technologies: Ultrawideband and WiMax (802.16). Ultrawideband creates a fast wireless connection that consumes about 10-4 the power of a cell phone, and WiMax promises 70 megabits per second across a 30-mile range. Overall, the intelligent sensor range is likely to be the fastest growing segment, growing at a CAGR of 8.0 percent between 2006 and 2013.

By 2013, oil and gas, water/wastewater, automotive, medical, and power industries are expected to be the top five end-user industries, with a revenue contribution of over 50.0 percent, compared to 35-40 percent in 2007. Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, and Canada are among the fastest growing markets for sensors. "Given the high level of competency, it has become imperative that companies redefine their strategies to provide customers with reliable instruments that are easily operable," says the analyst. "Proactive monitoring of the evolving requirements of different end-user segments would go a long way in achieving any company’s growth objective."

Frost & Sullivan Research Service
Published: 12 Mar 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Accelerometers and gyroscopes for Consumer applications

SUMMARY
MEMS gyroscopes and accelerometers market increased by 55% from 2005 to 2006 to reach USD 232 M last year. An average 35% CAGR for 2006-2011 periods is expected. The market dynamic mainly comes from accelerometers: about 65% of the total inertial sales by 2011. Consumer applications will progressively take a 40% share of the total inertial MEMS activity by 2011 (including automotive, medical, industrial, aeronautic and defence sectors).

MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes are emerging at a very fast pace in consumer electronics products. MEMS gyroscopes were widely integrated into camcorders since 1998 to provide optical stabilization features. MEMS accelerometers entered consumer applications in 2003, in large volume, as a protection feature for Hard Disk Drives.
In 2006, Nintendo Wii’s motion sensing remote control gave for the first time, public visibility to inertial MEMS. The new attractive Human Machine Interface from game controls such as the Wii, is even expected to penetrate the cell phone market.
Inertial MEMS are already spread over a wide range of consumer products, with limited volume . The MEMS industry is very excited and confident. Every one’s attention is focused on what will be the next killer application.

A consolidation should take place for MEMS in consumer applications.
The strong development of MEMS based consumer electronics applications since 2004 is leading the way for an industry consolidation starting in 2007. Some players seem to have already stopped their 3 axis accelerometer product line.

In the mean time, design win have mainly been realized by the TOP6 consumer accelerometers manufacturers. While the Nintendo Wii design win has been attributed to ADI and STM, Sony has not publicly disclose their motion sensor suppliers.

An accurate market segmentation of the MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes applications to identify new business opportunities.
Each application of the automotive, aeronautic, defence, medical industrial and consumer fields is detailed (market, technology, players) :
- Global market evaluation of the high performance inertial MEMS applications: component volume in M units, Average Single Price (ASP), and 2006-2011 value forecasts.
- Description of the products and technologies: product specifications, technological trends and business trends.
- Evaluation of major players market share and potential new entrants.

Companies described in the report
Analog Devices, Bosch Sensortec, Citizen, Freescale, Fujitsu, Fuji Electric, Fuji, Hitachi Metals, Hokuriku Denko, HSG-IMIT, Infineon, Invensense, Kionix, Micro Infinity, Mitsubishi, Murata, Samsung, SONY, STMicroelectronics, VTI, Apple, Aichi Steel, Asahi Kasei Microsystems, Canon, Epson Toyocom, Gyration, Hitachi Storage, HP, IBM, Kodak, MEMSIC, Maxtor, Microfabrica, Microsoft, NEC, Nintendo, Nokia, OKI, Olympus, Omron, Panasonic, Pioneer, Seagate, Sharp, Toshiba, Vodaphone, Wacoh

Publisher : Yole Développement

Friday, March 07, 2008

Apple’s accelerometer patent reveals a stunning tablet PC

...an oldy but a goody...

Posted by Dennis Sellers

imageOn Jan. 26, 2006, the US Patent & Trademark Office revealed a patent titled “Methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer.” Although no assignee was presented in the patent application’s template, a clear reference found under “description” does in fact provide patent number 6768066, which is an Apple patent published in 2004.

Just for the record, this patent presents 13 illustrations of a tablet PC and only 1 of a notebook. So make no mistake about it, this patent’s focus is on an Apple tablet!

In Apple’s brief “Background of the Invention” it states that “accelerometers are devices widely used for applications as diverse as vibration monitoring, appliance control, joysticks, industrial process control, space launches, satellite control, and many others.

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For example, an accelerometer has been used in a vehicle as sensor to detect a variety of operating conditions while the vehicle is moving.”

Interesting applications in Apple’s Summary

Methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer are described. According to one embodiment of the invention, an accelerometer attached to a portable device detects a movement of the portable device. In response, a machine executable code is executed to perform a predetermined user configurable operation.

According to one embodiment of the invention, an accelerometer of a portable device may constantly or periodically monitor the movement of the portable device. As a result, an orientation of the portable device prior to the movement and after the movement may be determined based on the movement data provided by the accelerometer attached to the portable device.

Depending on the particular embodiment of the invention, the patent states that an accelerometer may be used:

° To detect a movement of a portable device as a way to trigger whether a page of document or image may be displayed.

° In a gaming application, where the accelerometer may be used to detect a scene change during a video game running within a portable device.

° In a navigation application. For example, a portable device having an accelerometer attached therein may be used as a navigation tool to navigate a relatively large object or document that normally cannot be displayed entirely at once within a display of the portable device.

° To determine whether a portable device is moving (e.g., carried by a user) and the portable device should be put in a proper operating state (e.g., a sleep or hibernated mode).

° To detect whether a portable device is moved according to certain directions, in order to determine whether a password is entered correctly.

° To detect and record a sequence of movements of a portable device, where the recorded movement data may be used to recreate the moving history subsequently (e.g., off line).

° To detect and determine activities of a user (e.g., joggling) with a portable device having the accelerometer attached therein. [Hmm, is that a typo or the patent writer’s sense of humor?]

° To detect a movement of a portable device and an orientation of the portable device may be determined based on the movement data provided by the accelerometer. Thereafter, one or more interfaces of the portable device may be activated or deactivated based on the determined orientation after the movement.

Random Patent Claims: Multimedia

This patent packs a wallop with a total of 116 claims. Some of these claims would even make James Bond envious! Check out some of these excerpts of claims that go far beyond Apple’s summary of the Invention – displaying the tablet’s wide range of potential multimedia capabilities. Whoa!

20. …wherein the document page is one of a map, a newspaper, and a video game scene.

29. The method of claim 28, further comprising: activating at least one wireless transceiver that communicates with relative strong signals; and deactivating at least one wireless transceiver that communicates with relative weak signals.

30. …wherein the at least one interface includes one or more speakers.

32. …wherein the at least one interface includes one or more cameras.

33. …wherein the at least one interface includes one or more microphones.

39. …wherein the portable device is a digital audio player. [Yikes, King Kong iPod!]

58. …wherein generating the alert comprises transmitting a signal to a remote facility over a network.

60. …wherein configuring the portable device comprises disabling a wireless network interface and enabling a cellular interface of the portable device if the portable is associated with a mobile profile.

61. …wherein the portable device is one of a laptop computer, a tablet PC, a PDA (personal digital assistant), a cellular phone, a personal communicator, and a multimedia player.

On the business side of the equation

The following are random excerpts from Apple’s “Overview” section of the patent, geared more towards the business side of this tablet, as follows:

Partial excerpt from patent point # 56: “For example, the operating system may be a Mac OS from Apple Computer. Alternatively, the operating system may be a Windows operating system from Microsoft. Other operating systems, such as, for example, a UNIX, a Linux, an embedded operating system (e.g., a Palm OS), or a real-time operating system, may also be implemented.”

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Patent Point # 61: FIGS. 3A and 3B are diagrams illustrating an exemplary application that an accelerometer may be utilized according to one embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, and throughout the application, a tablet device is used as an example of a portable device. But it is not so limited. It will be appreciated that other portable devices, such as, a laptop computer, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a personal communicator (e.g., a blackberry from Research In Motion), a cellular phone, or a multimedia player (e.g., an MP3 player), etc., may also be utilized.

Patent Point # 0073: In one embodiment, the second page of the document may be a next page or a previous page of the document. The document may be a word document produced by a word processor, such as, a word processor from Microsoft Office. Alternatively, the document may be a Web page presented by a browser, such as, Internet Explorer from Microsoft or a Netscape communicator from Netscape Communications. Further, the document may be a slide presentation, for example, presented by PowerPoint of Microsoft or by Keynote of Apple Computer.

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Patent Point # 0076: In response to the oscillation of the supporting surface 552, an accelerometer attached to the portable device 551 may detect such an oscillation. In response to the detection, the accelerometer may notify, via the firmware and/or the controller, etc., the associated application software. In response, the application software may display a next page, a previous page, or a specific page of the document, which may be user configurable via a user interface. It is particularly useful when the portable device is placed on a desk and hooked up with a presentation projector. A user who is doing the presentation may simply tab on the desk to advance a next page of presentation without having to press a key of a keyboard (e.g., the “Enter” key or the space bar) or a mouse of the portable device.

Excerpts from: Exemplary Portable Device Having an Accelerometer

Patent Point # 141: FIG. 20 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary portable device having an accelerometer according to one embodiment of the invention. For example, exemplary system 2000 may represent at least a portion (e.g., a subsystem) of the exemplary system 100 shown in FIG. 1 or exemplary system 2100 of FIG. 21. Referring to FIG. 20, exemplary system 2000 includes one or more accelerometers 2001, one or more microcontrollers 2002, a host chipset 2003 that may be coupled to a video adapter 2004 and an audio device 2005, and one or more peripheral devices 2006.

Patent Point # 0142: In one embodiment, the accelerometer 2001 is a 3-axis accelerometer, which may provide acceleration data on X, Y, and Z axes. The accelerometer is an electromechanical micro machine encapsulated in a chip package. It presents three analog outputs (e.g., X, Y, and Z axes) whose values are directly proportional to the acceleration being measured along corresponding axes in 3-space. In one embodiment, the accelerometer 2001 may be a KGF01 accelerometer from Kionix or an ADXL311 accelerometer from Analog Devices.

Neo’s Note: Also check out the Kionix PDF: The “World’s Smallest High-Performance Tri-Axis Accelerometer.”
Yes sirree, it’s a roller coaster ride

Under “Other Applications Based on an Accelerometer,” this excerpt was presented:

Patent Point # 130: This is typically useful when a user wishes to replot a trail of a roller coaster ride afterwards. For example, a user may carry the portable device having an accelerometer attached therein and go onto a roller coaster ride. During the ride, the accelerometer may detect and store the movement data into a storage device, or alternatively, transmit the movement data to a remote facility over a network. After the ride, the movement data may be used to recreate a plot of the roller coaster ride. The roller coaster ride is used as an example only, the techniques described above may be applied to other situations. For example, a user who carrying an accelerometer, either attached to a portable device or attached to a vehicle, may drive a vehicle to different locations to perform a survey, in order to create a map for those locations. The map may be subsequently created using the movement data collected by the accelerometer during the drive.

NOTICE

Macsimum News presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent applications and/or grants should be read in its entirety for further details.

Today’s patent: Methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer

This is a killer patent!

While I’ve enjoyed being the first to break the news on many exciting Apple patents over the recent months, this one had to be one of the most exciting to review and prepare. If you haven’t seen part two on gaming yet, then I’d certainly say that you’re missing all the fun!

The Mac community has been hoping for a tablet PC from Apple for some time now, and I think that this patent will be the answer to many a prayer. Apple’s tablet vision is sweeping. It’ll play exciting next generation games while the patent notes that future games based on virtual reality are on their way. For the enterprise, it covers business presentation software from Apple and Microsoft while it will undoubtedly double as a serious video conferencing tool. Tools that will definitely be of benefit in their educational markets. Based on this patent, I’d say that Apple’s big switch to Intel is looking smarter every day.

Yet let’s face it, Apple needs something to attract gamers – big time – and now! It’s the one big gaping hole in their platform that has to be addressed if they’re ever to win Wintel switchers over in big enough numbers to crack the PC market wide open. So with the great news that Apple has next gen gaming on their tablet agenda, you could be assured that Apple has a master plan for gaming overall. Yet if Apple even has a prayer at actually winning in this market, you know that a new alliance is now in the wings. That’s something that I present in part two of this report – so be sure to join in.

So, what about timing. Could Apple realistically pull this off in time for this fall? Maybe, maybe not. However, Apple’s patent for iSight in notebooks and the desktop came to be within 60 days. Their RDS radio patent was partially fulfilled at MacWorld within a record 30 days! So could this patent foreshadow a launch of their tablet PC? Yes, of course.

Although only time will truly tell whether or not Apple could actually pull this stunner off in time, I think that there’s a few million of you out there that are cheering Apple on to make it so – right? And yes, I happen to be one of them: Go Apple!

Friday, February 08, 2008

NEW Tri-Axial, Transient Shock Logger

Press Release
Release date: February 4, 2008

MadgeTech, Inc. Introduces the TSR101, Tri-Axial, Transient Shock Logger

February 4, 2008

MadgeTech, Inc., the leader in reliable, low-cost data logging solutions is pleased to announce the TSR101, a tri-axial, transient shock data logger. The unit is ideal for applications requiring characterizing of environments such as packaging and fragility assessment (drop testing), break and crash testing, and shipment validation.

When a user specified trigger setting is exceeded (specified shock value), the TSR101 records a window of the Pre and Post trigger data. Users specify a reading rate between 1,024Hz to 1Hz, allowing for the capture of everything from high speed acceleration data, to tracking fragile shipments overtime. The device is equipped with built-in accelerometers and measures dynamic and static acceleration.

The non-volatile solid state memory provides maximum security, even if the battery becomes discharged. The device can be started and stopped directly from a computer. The TSR101 makes data retrieval quick and easy, simply plug it into an empty COM or USB port and the user-friendly software does the rest.

For more information on the TSR101 please visit our website at www.madgetech.com or call (603) 456-2011.