Always-On Sensors Bring Real Benefits

Richard Nass

November 5, 2013

2 Min Read
Always-On Sensors Bring Real Benefits

I spent some time with the QuickLogic folks last week, and I was mightily impressed with some technology they had to display. It was a sensor hub that enables always-on handsets and other mobile devices.

Why do you need an always-on sensor? It's funny you should ask, because I asked the same question. The possibilities range from the simple to the obvious to the life changing (or saving).

At the simple end of the spectrum, wouldn't it be nice if your handset could recognize whether it's sitting on the table or resting at your ear while engaged in a call? That way, you would never have to press the speaker button. That's a simple example. An obvious example would be that, if the handset knew it was in your pocket, there would be no reason to have the display turned on.

The life-saving feature is one in which the handset would know whether it was sitting in the driver's seat or the passenger's seat in a moving car. It could then enable the speaker and, more importantly, disable the texting functionality.

The two keys to this technology are the low power that's required for always-on status and the extremely accurate sensing technology. QuickLogic has developed the former capability and partnered to incorporate the latter. Its ArcticLink 3 S1 is an ultra-low-power sensor hub platform that integrates sensor management and optimizes application processor communications while reducing power consumption to about 1 percent of system power.

The ArcticLink 3 S1 platform integrates a sensor manager that can implement a very low-power I2C master interface that communicates with multi-axis sensors such as accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, ambient light sensors, and pressure sensors. This lets it sample and buffer multiple seconds of sensor data at low power levels while keeping the apps processor in sleep mode.

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