STMicroelectronics’ eCompass modules deployed by Xiaomi

STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader has been an early bird in introducing its LSM303D accelerometer and magnetometer combo module to Xiaomi (Mi1S) and other emerging mobile phone makers in China.

ST’s LSM303 eCompass family combines a 3-axis magnetic-field sensor and a 3-axis accelerometer in a single tiny 2x2x1 mm module — one of these, the LSM303C was recently selected as “Device of the Year” by the MEMS Industry Group.

These devices accurately measure the direction and magnitude of external magnetic fields while the module’s accelerometer compensates for tilt, ensuring a very accurate compass heading even when portable devices are inclined. This capability provides the orientation function that is an essential part of all of today’s mobile devices.

“In smartphones and other mobile devices, every milliwatt matters,” said Benedetto Vigna, executive vice president and general manager Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics.

“The ST device meets minimal size constraints and allows significant reductions in power consumption without compromising performance in other areas. These advantages help manufacturers to provide mobile devices that meet customer expectations while minimizing the drain on the world’s resources,” added Vigna.

The low power consumption of the LSM303 Device of the Year is due to the use of a phenomenon called Magneto Resistance (MR). MR is inherently more power-efficient than alternative technologies, such as Hall Effect or Fluxgate that are used in competitive eCompasses. ST engineers were able to design devices that exploit this inherent power efficiency while still matching or exceeding the performance of competitive devices in module size, full-scale resolution and noise.

“Our MEMS technology continues to raise the bar in every quarter: power consumption, performance, price, and physical size. This, in turn, allows dynamic new companies such as Xiaomi to raise the bar in their own markets,” commented Vigna.

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