Date: 23/11/2016

MEMS talk with ST's Vishal Goyal

At an electronics manufacturing related event held in Bangalore, Vishal Goyal, Senior Manager – Technical Marketing, Analog and MEMS Group [AMG], India, Asean and ANZ – STMicroelectronics answered to the MEMS related questions. Below is the Q and A:

Q1 . What are the benefits that MEMS Technology offers to consumers on a larger scale?

MEMS sensors have enabled intuitive motion-activated user interfaces in many different popular consumer devices, including most of the leading smart phones, tablets, personal media players, game consoles, digital still cameras and remotes, making these more accessible and appealing to people. ST’s MEMS devices are also widely used for free-fall protection in laptop hard-disk drives, in many health and fitness products, and for car infotainment and enhanced navigation. Today, they are being designed into new applications as varied as providing the crispest, clearest audio in mobile communications and adding localized weather/environmental monitoring capabilities to consumers’ mobile devices.

Few examples where MEMS Technology can benefit consumers are appended:

Smart City
For better living, higher security, and less waste

Reduce traffic congestion
Better use of resources
Improve security
Infrastructure evolution using smart sensor nodes enabling new services like traffic monitoring, weather station, improved security

Smart Home
Increase comfort
Save energy
Same Garbage collection : Connected containers allow cities to more manage efficiently manage collection and provide better services

Smart Things
Everyday Objects
Enable better interaction with technology
Make daily tasks easier

Fitness & Healthcare
Help to lead healthier lives
Help physicians monitor and diagnose remotely

Smart Driving
Making intelligent cars aware

Reduce emissions
Increase safety
Save fuel
Helping drivers to find a parking spot faster and enabling cities to manage their parking spaces more efficiently

Q2. How ST (STMicroelectronics) does maintains its leadership position in MEMS technology space?

Sensors are now spreading in the world and having a great influence in all aspects of our lives. They are bringing exciting ways of interacting with the world and is core to connected applications and a key building block of the Internet of Things (Smart Things, Smart Cities, Smart Industry, and Smart Home) and Smart Driving (Connected Car).

ST is the only company to offer the full range of Sensors & Micro-actuators. We are continuously strengthening its position in the MEMS market through the introduction of new devices. In addition to motion sensors, environmental sensors and MEMS microphones, we are using MEMS mirrors to develop a complete solution for ultra-mobile projectors. It is a race against the clock to keep competitive advantage and maintain the trust of our customers. This requires to be innovative and creative while following our strategic direction.

MEMS micro-mirrors is a shining example of innovation and market leadership
We are already enjoying market success inside Intel's RealSense laser scanning application and now many other tier-one companies are interested in this brilliant new product.

Q3. What are the competitive features of the latest ST MEMS applications?

We offer our customers all the elements they need to make a complete solution. Our MEMS and Optics come in variable frequencies, with 1D and 2D scan, custom mirror diameter, optics reference design services, gold or aluminum coating and a proven process technology. We also propose custom solutions (ASICs) comprising 1D and 2D drivers, video processors, low power, built-in safety circuits, fast-frequency scan and phase lock, mirror sense and control. In addition, our System offering (the brain) proposes dedicated application firmware, full image processing for visible and invisible applications and a compact optical engine and electronic circuitry reference design. We are already shipping considerable volumes and expect this to become very high volume business next year thanks to a wide range of new and exciting applications. Today, ST is the only company able to produce this technology and it is very difficult to duplicate. Our competitors are still at the prototype stage.

Motion sensors: innovation and customization
Our MEMS portfolio covers the main motion sensors in the market. Today our accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetic sensors are packaged in 4mm˛ Land Grid Arrray (LGA) devices, and this year we will be releasing a smaller 2.25mm˛ LGA.

Environmental sensors: bare necessities
ST’s first pressure sensor was an LGA 3x3 FR4 Cavity Package where the sensor was stacked on top of the ASIC and encapsulated inside an open cavity package. A change in pressure induces dimensional changes on the cavity chamber within the silicon (MEMS device) which is translated into an electrical signal using the Wheatstone bridge concept. The need for miniaturization and higher performance led to the development of a new package structure: The package cavity is now at wafer level, with the final MEMS device packaged inside a smaller LGA with exposed Silicon Cap.

MEMS Microphones
MEMS microphones are another fast-growing part of our portfolio. They target all audio applications where small size, high sound quality, reliability and affordability are key requirements. The challenge is to target a product that meets the price point set by the traditional Electret Condenser Microphone (ECM) while featuring superior reliability and robustness

Q3. Can you mention some of the key milestones achieved by ST in wearable technology segment?

More than 100 million Pressure sensors shipped in 2015
Introduced world’s smallest pressure sensor in tiny package (2x2x0.76mm)
Used for altimeters, indoor navigation and weather stations.
Shipped around 65 million pressure sensors in 2014.
Indoor navigation
Weather station
World’s first sensor to provide a direct digital output of the Ultraviolet Index (UVI)-Now in a wearable device
Combined temperature & humidity sensor in smart home projects

Q3. Could you share examples of devices made by ST for wearable applications?

Wearables are electronic devices which are small and light weight so can born by the user. They are getting adopted as watches, fashion accessory, fitness tracker, security devices or specialized medical gadgets. A wearable device may be independent in its functioning or it may act as accessory to other device such as tablet or Smartphone. In this case it is mainly used as input or output device with some computing power.

ST has designed a range of products keeping energy efficiency and size considerations in mind, which ensure the best performance for wearable device with ultra-low-power processing and connectivity, power and energy management, and sensors.

Few examples of ST Wearable applications are :

• Activity monitor
• Smart Watch
• Glasses & Goggles
• Pedometers

• Environmental sensors (Real time monitoring of temperature, humidity and exposure to sun)
• Inertial modules, pressure sensors (Activity monitoring & positioning)
• Analog sensors (For heart monitoring)

• Heart rate monitors
• Glucose monitors
• Pulse Oximeters

Proximity and Anti-theft accessories
• BLE enabled car keys can be found easily with the help of connected Smartphone

Security and tracking
• Wearable watch or tracking devices

Q4. What product and solutions you displayed at Electronica India event? What are their applications and features?

Wesu Smart Watch platform

STEVAL-WESU1 FW provides a complete framework to build wearable applications, using inertial and environmental sensor drivers, battery profile measurements, and Bluetooth low energy for data communication

The system embeds a low power ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller unit (STM32L151VE), an iNEMO inertial module (LSM6DS3), a high performance magnetometer (LIS3MDL), a barometric pressure sensor (LPS25HB), a Bluetooth® low energy wireless network processor (BLUENRG-MS) and power management circuitry that allows fast charging and precise energy estimation (STNS01 and STC3115)


BLUEMICROSYSTEM1 provides a complete middleware for STM32 to build applications using inertial (e.g. motion MEMS) and environmental (e.g. humidity, pressure, temperature) sensors, leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy for sensor data communication
The package includes:
osxMotionFX (INEMOEngine PRO under OPEN.MEMS license), which uses advanced algorithms to integrate outputs from multiple MEMS sensors in a "smart" way, independent of environmental conditions, to reach optimal performance
osxMotionAR (iNEMOEngine PRO under OPEN.MEMS license) real-time activity-recognition algorithm
osxMotionCP (iNEMOEngine PRO under OPEN.MEMS license) carry-position recognition algorithm

Voice over BLE

BlueVoice + Android provides a complete example of STM32 application for voice streaming (acquired by digital MEMS microphones) over Bluetooth Low Energy to an Android device. The package is based on an improved version of OsxBlueVoice library which implements a vendor-specific profile, defining a service composed of an audio characteristic.

The BlueVoice+Android application supports three different audio compression algorithms: ADPCM, Opus and SBC. This package contains a firmware for the Peripheral unit and an .apk application for the Central unit. The software provides an example application for STM32 Nucleoplatforms equipped with the X-NUCLEO-IDB04A1 expansion board featuring BlueNRG network module and the X-NUCLEO-CCA02M1 expansion board featuring one digital MEMS microphone

Lechal Smart Shoes and Insoles

Lechal, has launched the world’s first haptic footwear that offers hands-free navigation. Their products contain ST microcontrollers, MEMS sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and power management devices