Video: Invensense MEMS Gyroscope Adds Motion Control to Mobile Devices

LAS VEGAS — Accelerometers have become old hat in mobile technology, and while some devices have taken the technology a little further with motion controls, there hasn’t been much innovation. Invensense, the company behind the motion control in Nintendo’s Wii Plus remotes, is bringing a whole new perspective to the conversation — literally — at CES 2012.

During our visit to Invensense’s booth, we went hands-on with the MPU-6150, the world’s first single-chip MotionTracking device. A combination of a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer, the MPU-6150 resides on a tiny 4x4x0.9mm chip. Paired with the company’s run-time calibration firmware, MotionSense, the MPU-6150 delivers more accurate motion tracking and enables device manufacturers to address the z axis. That mobile device display can navigate beyond landscape and portrait modes, experiencing a level of depth an accelerometer can’t produce.

To illustrate some of the potential uses of the chip, we were handed a Galaxy Tab 10.1 equipped with both the chip and the firmware. We were directed to a photo of the interior of the Vatican. From there, we held the tablet out in front of us and turned in a circle. Instead of seeing the same static image, the image panned around as we moved, delivering a panoramic view. Moving the tablet above our head displayed the ceiling while panning down showed us the floor. When we jumped, the image shook to reflect our movement.

In another demonstration, the Invensense rep cued up a demo of a virtual museum. We we able to navigate through the 3D museum by panning left or right. When we came in contact with a painting, a blue indicator appeared, prompting us to tap the screen which displayed information about the artwork. During a gaming demo, we quickly navigated terrain while blasting enemy soldiers by moving the tablet in the direction we wanted to go. Panning up moved us up the stairs, while turning left or right moved us in the corresponding direction. The panning was fluid and accurate in each of the demos, keeping up with all of our movements. We also had the opportunity to walk through similar demos on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

Although Invensense’s chips have yet to be used in mobile devices, the innovative technology can potentially change the way we interact with our mobile device and the world around us in a significant way.

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