IMUs are devices that can accurately sense inertial motion, from slight inclinations to large movements. Traditionally, IMUs were embedded in specialized equipment for aerospace applications and other uses that require highly accurate, stable measurement of inertial measurement. Then, several years ago, IMUs developed for industrial applications began finding their way into a variety of products in this growing new market. However, these industrial IMUs not only needed to be more accurate and stable, they also needed to be smaller and draw less power, to make them easier to embed in products in this market.
Recognizing this need, Epson, a leader in the crystal device industry, set out to develop a new IMU, using an original approach that combined its patented QMEMS(*2) quartz gyroscopic (angular rate) sensors(*3) with the semiconductor technology and know-how it developed for GPS and other positioning devices.
Epson's development effort culminated in the commercialization of the S4E5A0A0, an IMU that offers outstanding measurement accuracy and stability while being among the smallest and most energy efficient IMUs in its class. The compact S4E5A0A0 module is 24 x 24 x 10 mm and consumes 30 mA when operating at 3.3V.
The IMU includes triple gyroscopes and a tri-axis accelerometer(*4), for six degrees of freedom. The gyroscope provides high accuracy and stability (±300 deg/s), while the accelerometer offers a dynamic range of ±3 G. It offers excellent angular rate measurement performance (angle random walk(*5): 0.24deg/√hr) and stability (gyro bias instability(*6): 6 deg/h). The device is also equipped with industry-standard SPI and UART interfaces.
The S4E5A0A0 is suited to industrial applications in areas such as inertial motion analysis and control, motional analysis and control, moving object control, vibration control and stabilization, and navigation systems. The smaller, lighter, lower-power IMU gives designers of these applications greater design flexibility and allows these Epson IMUs to be embedded in industrial products where this was once not an option.
"The new inertial measurement unit is an important milestone in product development for Epson," said Torao Yajima, managing director. "By leveraging our renowned crystal and semiconductor technologies, Epson has once again shown how it is leading the industry in providing solutions that meet significant market needs and generate value for customers."
In its SE15 long-range corporate vision, Epson has identified sensing as an important growth business. The company will thus continue to leverage its crystal-based QMEMS technology in the sensing of quantities such as time, pressure and angular velocity, driving further advances in convergence with semiconductor and software technologies, to provide customers with a wide array of device solutions, including products, modules and systems that are easy to use and that they know they can trust.