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Tiny motion module aims at Internet of Things

23 Mar 2015  | Bernard Cole

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The new second-generation MIPS-derived processor hub from Microchip Technology is optimised for use in space-constrained embedded apps for wearable fitness monitoring, remote controls, gaming and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Unlike the first generation SSC7102, which was made available in an 84-in TFBGA (thin and fine ball grid array) form, the new SSC7150 is in a 28-pin QFN (quad flatpack no leads) package and is only available as part of its newest MM7150 motion module.


Figure 1: To make sensor hub capabilities available to space constrained IoT apps, MM7150 is no larger than a standard CR2032 coin cell battery.

Designed for use in the extremely small custom-printed circuit boards typical of such designs, the module measures 17mm x 17mm, about the size of a standard CR2032 coin cell battery (Figure 1). All components are integrated, calibrated and available on the module for PCB mounting.

In the active mode, the 3.3V module consumes about 7.68mA of active mode current. But reflecting its usage in a variety of untethered IoT and wearable apps, the motion module in the deep sleep mode consumes only 70µA, about four times lower than the stand-alone predecessor 7102 CPU.

Motion module

Figure 2: In addition to a MIPS-based 32bit processor, the nine-axis 17mm x 17mm motion module also incorporates 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis magnetometer and 3-axis gyroscope.

"The earlier SS7102 chip was designed for use by developers working for large OEMs who have already developed their own software and hardware solutions for integrating nine axis sensor fusion capabilities into their designs," said Microchip Computing Products Group VP Patrick Johnson. "The MM7150 module, on the other hand, is targeted at the many IoT and wearable apps developers who want a solution that can easily be integrated into their custom boards and allows them to get to market fast."

Microchip was aware that such developers may not have all the experience in software and firmware development necessary for a sensor fusion application. To combat this, the motion module is preloaded with firmware not only for nine-axis sensor software development, but for sensor-data pass through, magnetic distortion detection and suppression, and gyroscope drift cancellation as well.

The module has an I2C interface to the host and supports the HID (human interface device) standard over an I2C (InterIC) chip to chip bus. The module includes the Bosch BMC150 Geomagnetic Sensor/Accelerometer and Bosch BMG160 Gyroscope.

Taking ease of development one step further, the company is providing a PICtail Plus Daughter Board that plugs directly into Microchip's Explorer 16 Development tool, which will allow developers to quickly implement their software. Johnson said the simple application programming interface allows developers access to the processor where features and functions can be modified via a few changes in the CPU's instruction registers.

"We just want to make it as easy as possible for developers of leading edge apps in the IoT and wearable space to get up and running," Johnson said. "Sometimes such developers have all the hardware and firmware experience they need, but faced with the pressures of fast time-to-market, they don't have the time. But sometimes they are newcomers to embedded device development who have an idea, but neither deep programming nor hardware design experience, but want to get their idea out there first."

In addition to IoT, he said, the MM7150 is well suited for a wide range of applications in the embedded (e.g., portable devices, robotics), industrial (e.g., commercial trucks, industrial automation, patient tracking, smart farming) and consumer-electronics markets (e.g., IoT, remote controls, gaming devices, toys, wearable devices), among others.

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