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Freeing code: Pursuing open-source sensor fusion platform

07 Nov 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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Algorithm developments need to be supported with sensor data that captures actual use cases, Chen said, and collecting such data will be a significant barrier to entry for small innovative algorithm developers. The open-source community will do well to reduce this hurdle, he added.

While these algorithms can sometimes compensate for a lack of sensors or for low performance, there is usually a compromise in some area such as power, code size, cost, or development time. To lessen such compromises, MIG and AIC are working to develop standards, such as the IEEE definition of sensor parameters. In addition, MIG and the MIPI Alliance will also announce a I/O standard for sensors this week. But AIC does not see a big part of its role in creating standards.

Whalley hopes to populate the AIC site with various algorithms and increase awareness in sensor-based products in consumer electronics, the Internet of Things, wearable, and mobile health fields. For its part, Freescale is offering a sensor fusion development kit and software development support package.

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Development board in Freescale's sensor fusion kit. (Source: Freescale)

Sensor fusion capability is provided by sensor companies and by algorithm companies, though few independent algorithm companies still exist as many have been acquired. For its part, PNI will contribute algorithms for motion, heart rate monitoring and step counting. Whalley expects other MEMS Industry Group members to add algorithms to AIC in the next 30 to 60 days.

There is "competition trying to keep basic algorithms proprietary, which is fundamentally limiting the speed of innovation and the expansion of the overall sensor market," Chen said. "By bringing sensor fusion software into an open-source setting, we're making it much easier to use sensor technology to add intelligence to new applications," he added.

Whalley said he expects AIC to start with a few sensor and algorithm companies and universities as initial algorithm contributors. Over time, he hopes product companies will start to give back to improve what's already there by adding more of their algorithms.

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