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New Freescale Xtrinsic Pressure Sensor Simplifies System Design
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New Freescale Xtrinsic Pressure Sensor Simplifies System Design  
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Freescale Semiconductorintroduces a new high-precision pressure sensor for altitude detection designed to help users further leverage advanced navigation capabilities and emerging location-based services such as GPS assist and e911.

The Freescale Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor, based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, complements the accelerometers and magnetometers in the Xtrinsic portfolio to meet the growing demand for these types of components in smart mobile devices.

The Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 smart digital pressure sensor processes pressure and temperature data locally, requiring fewer computations assigned to the applications processor and thereby reducing power significantly compared to systems using basic sensors directly managed by the host processor. The pressure sensor features optimal efficiency with a FIFO (first-in/first-out) memory buffer, a standby mode of 2 micro amps and a low-power mode of 8.5 micro amps for current consumption savings depending on conditions of the processor and output data rates chosen.

According to research firm IHS iSuppli Corp, the demand for MEMS technology in consumer electronics and mobile handsets will grow by 25.6 percent in 2011.

"In conjunction with accelerometers, compasses and gyroscopes, pressure sensors will be a key component for indoor navigation solutions in combination with other location technologies such as WiFi triangulation," said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. "Pressure sensors have already appeared in tablets in 2011, and IHS iSuppli expects sensor-supported navigation to take off in smart phones and handsets in 2012 and 2013."

The Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor is designed to address the increasing popularity of mobile location-based services used in sophisticated handsets by delivering 30 cm resolution, which enables the device to identify elevation at a granular level. For example, a phone could detect the exact floor a user is on within a high-rise building or a shopping mall, allowing location-based services to more accurately reflect immediate surroundings.

Beyond the smart mobile device market, the Xtrinsic MPL3115A2 pressure sensor has many other potential applications, including tracking assets in business and industrial settings, providing precise locations in emergency search and rescue missions, forecasting climate changes in desktop weather stations and monitoring home cooling and heating systems. In addition, the sensor is ideal for medical applications, including respiratory equipment and health monitoring and detection systems that can help identify the location of patients within their homes or other environments.

"For more than 30 years, Freescale has been a leader in delivering sensing technologies that provide advanced performance and meet stringent energy efficiency requirements," said Tom Deitrich, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale's RF, Analog and Sensor Group. "With the MPL3115A2, we are integrating smart features and technologies to offer ease-of-use for our customers, while also paving the way for future advancements in the mobile device space."

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